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Guinea Election Commission Chief Dies

President of the electoral committee of Guinea Ben Sekou Sylla (L) speaks with president of the national transition council Rabiatou Sera Diallo during a meeting of political party leaders on the eve of presidential elections in Conakry (File Photo - 26 J

The head of Guinea's electoral commission has died, just days ahead of a critical election already thrown into turmoil by fraud allegations and political violence.

Family members say Ben Sekou Sylla, 57, died overnight Monday at a Paris hospital after an undisclosed illness.

Last week, Sylla was convicted of falsifying results in June's first-round presidential election. He and another top election official were sentenced to a year in prison.

Guinea's interim government suspended all campaigning Sunday after clashes between supporters of Alpha Conde and Cellou Dalein Diallo, the two candidates in the September 19 presidential run-off election.

Some Conde supporters have called for the election to be postponed. But an adviser to Diallo told VOA Tuesday that he expects the vote to be held as planned.

Diallo took 44 percent of the vote in the first round. Conde was second with 18 percent.

Election observers say June's first round of voting was generally free and fair. But nearly all of the 24 candidates who took part complained of irregularities.

An interim election chief, Hadja Aminata Mame Camara, was appointed in August while Sylla sought medical treatment. But supporters of Conde say the new chief is too close to Diallo. They have asked for her to be replaced.

The election is Guinea's first multi-party presidential poll since the country won independence from France in 1958. Since then, the country has been under some form of autocratic rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.