Guinea: Presidential election campaign begins

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It’s official. Campaigning for the June presidential election began Monday in Guinea. The list of candidates for the election, scheduled to take place June 27, will remain open until May 21. Eight people, including Alpha Conde and Sidya Toure have so far filed their candidacy. The election is expected to return Guinea to democracy after 50 years of autocratic rule.

Campaigning began on Monday in Guinea. Expected in a mixture of apprehension and hope by the Guinean population, the June 27 election precedes the first free presidential polls in the history of the West African country. 73 year-old Alpha Conde, sole survivor of the first pluralistic presidential election in 1993, is among the list of candidates bidding for the highest office.

Emblematic figure of the Guinean opposition, Alpha Conde, who refused to participate in the 2003 election for “lack of transparency”, was invested Sunday as the flag-bearer of the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinea (RPG) in Conakry. He makes his entry into the electoral arena alongside former Premiers; Cellou Dalein Diallo of Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG), Lansana Kouyaté of Parti de l’espoir pour le développement national de la Guinée (PEDN) and Sidya Touré of Union des forces républicaines (UFR)

However, in a country with 124 registered parties, it is not unexpected to see more political parties announce their candidacy by May 21, closing date for the submission of candidatures, even if the required $ 100,000 deposit per candidate could end up deterring most of them. Under the new electoral code introduced by the transitional government and validated by the acting President of Guinea, General Sékouba Konate, the campaign will last for 40 days. However, Sunday, Guinéeweb reported the presence of campaign posters in some parts of Guinea. Some candidates chose not to wait for the official opening of the campaign season to begin traveling the length and breadth of the country, and holding meetings with their foreign counterparts.

This first free election since independence in 1958 represents an immeasurable hope for Guinea. It seeks to end the chaotic transitional period that followed the death of the dictator Lansana Conte in December 2008. The transitional period saw a two man military rule. First by Captain Dadis Camara, a self-proclaimed successor of Lansana Conté, who was eliminated from the limelight after an assassination attempt on his life in December 2009. General Sékouba Konate, his replacement and current acting Head of State, who is expected return the country to civilian rule at the end of the electoral process.

The June presidential election will mark a radical change in the lives of Guineans, who for the first time, will elect their own president. First French-speaking sub-Saharan African country to claim its independence, Guinea has, for over half a century, been crippled by dictatorial regimes. Ahmed Sekou Toure, proclaimed as the country’s “father of independence” ruled unchallenged for 26 years and is accused of having killed some 50,000 people to remain in power. Lansana Conte, president from 1984 until his death in late 2008, was succeeded by Dadis Camara, after a bloodless coup d’etat.

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