Guinea holds first democratic elections

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Guinea is set for its first democratic vote in half a century on Sunday after clashes between rival parties on Thursday left at least one person dead. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has called for “peaceful and credible” presidential elections.

More than four million Guinean voters have registered to vote on Sunday for 24 civilian candidates running in the first free elections since their country’s independence in 1958, and after 52 years of civilian and military dictatorships.

The UN avowed its support of the transitional process and calls upon the country’s partners to continue to accompany Guineans as they go all-out to restore constitutional order in their country, institute crucial socio-economic reforms and promote respect for human rights.

According to UN spokesperson Mr. Martin Nesirky, Mr. Ki-moon stresses the importance of the peaceful conduct of Guinea’s presidential elections.

“He [Mr. Ki-moon] calls on Guinea’s national authorities, all political stakeholders, civil society and the electorate to continue to contribute towards a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful and credible polls that would result in the election of a government that fully reflects the will of Guineans,” Mr. Nesirky was quoted on Friday.

Until now, elections have been distorted in favor of those already in power and the country’s leaders have only brought brutality, corruption and poverty to its people. But on Sunday Guineans would freely choose their leader for the first time since independence 52 years ago.

According to the United Nations development Index, despite having the largest bauxite deposit in the world, as well as an abundance of gold and diamonds, Guinea’s 10 million people can only afford one meal a day- a condition analysts have attributed to indifferent military rule.

However, many hold the view that Sunday’s election could finally drive the army out of politics, leaving democratically chosen leaders to try and improve the lives of all Guineans.

Current military leader Gen Sekouba Konate, who will oversee the elections, recently launched a “National Reconciliation Day” and apologized to the people of Guinea for crimes committed by his three predecessors.

24 presidential candidates which include the first woman to contest a presidential election in Guinea will lead to an investigation into past crimes. All candidates have promised to continue the reconciliation process.

So far the top contenders include Sidya Toure, (Union of Progress and Renewal), Cellou Dilein Diallo, (Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea), Lansana Kouyate (National Party for Hope and Development), and Alpha Conde, (Rally of the Guinean People).

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