Guinea’s opposition parties have called for a mass peaceful protest on Thursday against what they call the government’s denial of democracy in the country.
This comes after President Alpha Conde decreed on Sunday that the country’s long-delayed parliamentary elections will take place on June 30 this year.
The elections should have been held six months after Conde took office as president in December 2010. But the opposition repeatedly threatened boycott, claiming the vote would not be free and fair.
Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, who came second in the last presidential election, said President Conde ignored an opposition request for a U.N.-mediated dialogue to resolve opposition concerns.
“We agreed to this date [June 30] with condition. That’s why we requested to have a dialogue with the government about lots of matters. We are awaiting the facilitator appointed by U.N. secretary-general, Mr. Ban Ki-moon to have this dialogue. But now the president decided to organize this election on June 30 without resolving the problem we have with this election,” he said.
Diallo said the opposition’s main concern is the decision of the government to unilaterally select a South African company - Waymark - to handle the voter register without a bidding process.
The National Electoral Commission approved Waymark in February this year, but Diallo said the company would favor President Conde’s party.
“He [President Conde] chose this operator without any transparency to help him win the election. That’s why we don’t accept it,” Diallo said.
Diallo said the opposition is concerned about violence during Thursday’s planned protest. He accused government security forces of instigating violence during previous opposition protests.
“We are concerned, but the violence is provoked by the police and gendarmerie, and we will try to talk with them to avoid any violence when we have our manifestation,” Diallo said.
He rejected the suggestion that the opposition is threatening to boycott the poll because it is not ready. Diallo, who won 47 percent of the vote in the 2010 presidential election, said he is ready for any election but one that will be free and fair.
“We are ready. My party is stronger today than the last presidential election because I have a lot of new addition to my party. I want to election, but I want to a fair election,” Diallo said.