- Title: GUINEA: Election postponement threatens to spark further unrest
- Date: 17th September 2010
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALPHA CONDE PORTRAITS ON STREETLAMPS (SOUNDBITE) (French) MAKALÃ‰ TRAORÃ‰, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALPHA CONDE, SAYING: "I think that since yesterday everybody understood that it was more important to correct the irregularities than to fix a date. Again, we want to have transparent elections when the flaws have been corrected, so we're giving this election a chance that the results could be accepted by all Guineans." MORE OF CONDE PORTRAIT ON STREET MORE OF PEOPLE NEAR NEWSPAPER KIOSK (SOUNDBITE) (French) ABOU DIABY, OFFICE WORKER, SAYING: "An institution as the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) which has every means the State has asked of them, financial means, logistics, and even so this institution is behaving like this, it's shameful, it's humiliating." TRAFFIC IN CONAKRY
- Embargoed: 2nd October 2010 13:00
- Location: Guinea
- Country: Guinea
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2Q29FWNKRYWN3AL92IW4YJMP3
- Story Text: Guinea has a matter of weeks to salvage a landmark transition to civilian rule, jeopardised by its own inexperience in holding elections and by deepening tensions between rival political camps.
The postponement of Sunday's presidential run-off could buy time for authorities to fix flaws that emerged in June's first round and help shore up the legitimacy of whoever becomes the next leader of the world's top bauxite producer.
But if the delay drags on for more than a few weeks it will feed suspicions of behind-the-scenes manipulation and could prompt violence on a far greater scale than last weekend's street battles that left one dead and around 50 wounded.
The streets of the capital Conakry were slightly quieter than usual after a late-night Wednesday announcement by election officials that the run-off would be delayed due to logistical problems. A new target date is due to be announced later on Thursday.
But Mamadou Bah Baddikko, spokesman for Cellou Diallo, said this was just the opposition hindering the electoral process.
"They should stop the delaying tactics of all types, hindrances of all types for the electoral process. It's not possible to come out each morning with a new request permitting to delay the elections indefinitely. It's not solely up to the candidates, whomever they may be, to impose the conditions which vary by the way all the time, by which we will have the elections. The Guinean people have been waiting for this election for a long time and it's time for equivocations to stop," Baddiko said Makale Traore, campaign director for presidential candidate Alpha Conde said the delay is absolutely necessary.
"I think that since yesterday everybody understood that it was more important to correct the irregularities than to fix a date. Again, we want to have transparent elections when the flaws have been corrected, so we're giving this election a chance that the results could be accepted by all Guineans," he said.
The list of problems that Guinea needs to put right before the poll will prove a tall order for the junta-ruled country, where strongarm rulers have stayed clear of genuine elections since independence from France in 1958.
The leadership of the national election commission CENI is in dispute since last week's fraud conviction of its chief, Ben Sekou Sylla, who died days later of a long illness.
Sylla's replacement by his deputy Hadja Aminata Mame Camara has prompted protests from presidential contender Alpha Conde, who complains she is a political ally of his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo.
The rising doubts over CENI's credibility cut short last-minute election preparations that were already way behind schedule and barely adequate to ensure a safe vote.
Authorities are now looking to create a further 1,250 voting stations after many voters in the June 27 first round complained of having to travel 30 km (20 miles) to cast their ballot, for many a bridge too far in a country without proper transport.
"An institution as the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) which has every means the State has asked of them, financial means, logistics, and even so this institution is behaving like this, it's shameful, it's humiliating," Abou Diaby, a Conakry resident, said at the end of a week that saw the election commission embroiled in a leadership row and the suspension of campaigning.
How long it will take authorities to resolve the knotty dispute over CENI's leadership and tackle the worst logistical shortcomings is still not clear -- but time is limited.
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