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Election Preparations Continue in Guinea

Election preparations continue in Guinea with just nine days to go before the presidential poll meant to return the country to civilian government after 18 months of military rule.

As presidential hopefuls in Guinea prepare to enter the final week of campaigning, the electoral commission continues its preparations for the vote, planned for June 27.

This week, the National Independent Electoral Commission began distributing voter cards, and commission spokesman, Thierno Sadou Bayo, held a press conference in Conakry to relay instructions for voting day.

It will be the first time that Guineans use a single ballot system, checking off their desired candidate's photo and name from a list instead of choosing their candidate's individual ballot from a selection of all those in the race.

Bayo says there are many advantages to the single ballot system. He says candidates will not have to fear that polling stations will run out of their individual ballot which would make it impossible for supporters to vote for them. This time, he says, one ballot is all we need for all candidates.

Bayo said sample ballots are being distributed to political leaders, who can then familiarize their supporters with the voting system.

Bayo reassured Guineans that measures have been taken to prevent any attempted duplication of the ballots or double voting on June 27.

A military junta seized power in Guinea in December 2008. Original junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara went into exile after being shot and wounded by an aide late last year.

His successor, Sekouba Konate, set up the regionally-backed transitional government that is organizing the elections. Authorities have expressed concern that Camara supporters could attempt to disrupt the vote.

General Konate and other interim leaders are not eligible to run in the poll, and indeed none of the 24 presidential candidates listed on the ballot are soldiers.

Campaigning has been under way for the past month. Many candidates are currently campaigning in the interior of the country but plan to return to the capital, Conakry, next week before the vote.

Though risks of electoral violence remain, officials hope the vote will be Guinea's first free and fair election since independence in 1958 and a true turning point for the country.