Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Early results in Guinea indicate incumbent leading in presidential election; opposition protests

Guinea's electoral commission was criticized for problems with voter registration (BBC)
Last Sunday, "Millions of Guineans voted peacefully ... in the West African country's second free election since the West African country's independence from France nearly 60 years ago."

Incumbent president Alpha Conde, who won the country's first free election in 2010, was expected by outside observers to win re-election, although perhaps not in the first round. Eight candidates contested the election, which makes winning a majority in the first round a challenge. Conde's main rival is Cellou Dalein Diallo, the candidate of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). Diallo was prime minister under former president Lansana Conte (who first came to power in a coup in 1984) and aligned himself with the leader of the 2009 coup, Moussa Dadis Camara. Diallo came in first place with 44% in the first round in the 2010 presidential election, but without a majority was forced to go to a second round, which Conde won.

Conde was expected to win not necessarily because of his performance - the economy is "stagnant" and the Ebola virus is still "simmering" after nearly two years - but rather because of "deep divisions within an opposition riven by ethnic and personal rivalries."

According to Reuters,
"European Union observers gave Guinea's presidential elections a clean bill of health on Tuesday despite protests by opposition supporters who accuse President Alpha Conde of rigging the vote to win a second term.
The EU observer team said that logistical problems including lack of voting materials and the late opening of polling stations did not mar the overall outcome of Sunday's ballot in Guinea, which is Africa's largest bauxite producer. 
Early results announced by radio stations showed Conde with a sizeable lead. Official figures are not expected until the end of the week. Opposition leaders on Monday rejected the results and called for the ballot to be reorganized. 
After nightfall, residents in outlying neighborhoods of Conakry, the coastal capital, reported hearing gunfire following clashes earlier in the day between security forces and opposition supporters."
As an example of the division in the opposition, "the deputy head of Diallo's UFDG party ... said on Tuesday it was too early to reject the election before the official results had been announced." The final result is expected in the next few days.

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