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Tensions Simmer in Guinea after Violent Pre-Election Clashes

  • Peter Clottey

Guinea's acting President General Sekouba Konate, left, speaks with Prime Minister of the transitional government Jean Marie Dore during the inauguration ceremony of Camp Boiro in Conakry, 26 Jun 2010 (file photo)

The president of Guinea’s Research Institute on Democracy and Rule of Law, a non-governmental organization, told VOA an uneasy calm prevails in and around the capital, Conakry, following weekend clashes between rival supporters of the two presidential candidates that left at least one dead and dozens injured.

Attorney Thierno Balde said both candidates, Former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and opposition leader Alpha Conde, have been urged to call on their supporters to avoid further violence ahead of the 19th September second round vote.

“The situation is (more) tense in Conakry (because) we heard gunfire in several suburb(s) of Conakry. There has been violence in some areas of the city. People are out in the streets (and) it is really difficult to know exactly (what is happening now),” he said.

This came after a court sentenced the head of Guinea’s electoral commission, Ben Sekou Sylla, and his head of planning, Boubacar Diallo, to a year in jail.

They were convicted of fraud during June’s first round election. Both men have reportedly indicated they will appeal the ruling.

Supporters of long-time opposition leader Conde's Rally for the Guinean People (RPG) party accused the two electoral officials of fraudulently manipulating the first round of vote in favor of former Prime Minister Diallo. They also demanded removal and replacement of the two officials, as well as some members of the electoral commission, ahead of the second round.

But, supporters of former Prime Minister Diallo rejected the accusation saying the RPG partisans want to scuttle the second round vote knowing that their chance of winning the election is slim.

Both two leading presidential candidates signed a deal mediated by Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore to ensure there is no violence ahead of the 19th September vote.

But, attorney Balde said tension is still high adding that Guineans are concerned the vote could be marred by violent clashes in the country with a long history of ethnic animosity.

“You know it’s one thing (to reach) an agreement, but it’s also another thing to keep the commitment which has been taken. If that agreement is fully implemented, I don’t think we will have any kind of violence here and the second round will be organized peacefully.”