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Guinea's New President Hopes to Ease Tensions

Guinea president elect Alpha Conde is surrounded by supporters in Conakry, Guinea, Nov 16, 2010 (file photo)

As borders reopen and the new president announces his plans to form a unity government, Guinea begins to face a future with its first democratically elected president.

Guinea's President-elect Alpha Conde is meeting with leaders from his party to discuss ministerial appointments. In efforts to reconcile the country after last month's contentious presidential elections, Mr. Conde has said he plans to offer posts to the opposition party.

He also has offered to form a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that would probe into past human-rights abuses in the country. Mr. Conde says change must come to Guinea through fighting against impunity from past abuses.

Ethnic tensions mounted during this year's election and security forces clashed with supporters of presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo. The violence left at least 10 people dead and more than 200 injured.

New York-based Human Rights Watch published a report last week that said security forces in Guinea used excessive force and displayed a lack of political neutrality when responding to election-related violence.

As president of the Guinean Party for Renaissance and Progress, Alpha Ibrahima Sila Bah joined the Conde political camp after the election's first round. He said the country faces a long road ahead in the development process.

"The basic needs of people have to be satisfied," said Bah. "We have to reconcile the country first with itself, and then, because that is the only ... without reconciliation, there is no peace and there is no development without peace."

Bah added he is hopeful and positive about the country's future. He said Mr. Conde's victory marks a historic point in Guinea's history.

"Naturally, I am extremely happy for this occurrence. It is a moment that we have been waiting for, for a long time. This is ushering a new era for Guinea, the Third Republic of Guinea. The challenges, as you know, are enormous. This country has suffered for 52 years for lack of solid government and we are ushering in a new era to respect the democratic process," said Bah.

His positive outlook was echoed by at least one member of the Guinean diaspora, who feels Mr. Conde should open up his government to stave off corruption.

"My recommendation to the new president is to open his government to all Guineans and really break away from tradition of people bringing lists of their friends and so forth, their relatives to become heads of various governmental departments," she said.

Diallo conceded defeat in the elections last week, and the country has reopened its land, sea and air borders, as well as easing up on curfew hours set in place during the state of emergency immediately following the presidential elections.