Guinea: Court keeps electoral process in check

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Guinean court has stood firm in its coordination of national elections after it rejected votes from five districts due to severe irregularities feared to breed unrest following the results of a hotly contested June 27 presidential poll. Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde will contest in the run-off.

Guinea’s Supreme Court Tuesday released the final results of the country’s first presidential elections more than three weeks after the west African country’s first free presidential election since its independence. Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, and Alpha Conde, representing RPG (Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée) will contest the second round presidential election, according to the head of the country’s Supreme Court, Mamadou Sylla.

Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde got 72,496 votes (43.69% of the votes cast), and 323,406 votes (18.25%), respectively. The date for the second round must be determined by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). But according to Article 28 of the Guinean Constitution, the second round should take place on August 3 this year.

Today’s announcement sees a correction of the earlier results published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on July 2. The overall turnout in the presidential elections was lowered from 77 to 52%, while some votes were outrightly canceled on the basis of “irregularities”. And according to Mamadou Sylla, the Supreme Court rejected the votes cast in Matam, Ratoma (Conakry), Kankan, Mandiana (Upper Guinea) and Lola (Guinea forestière) altogether. Numerous irregularities were denounced by civil society and parties involved in the presidential race in the areas which have had their votes canceled.

Guinea’s top court has been commended for the absence of wide-scale disturbances in the run-up to or since the west African country’s first round presidential polls, though the military-led transitional government said it had thwarted a suspected armed plot to subvert the electoral process.

Observers from the European Union and Carter Center have voiced concerns that towns in Haute Guinea believed to be supportive of third-placed Sidya Toure, another former prime minister, which won slightly over 13 percent of the vote, could stir trouble unless it is successfully courted by one of the two front-runners.

A run-off had primarily been due July 18 between former Prime Minister Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, but the Supreme Court received complaints of fraud from virtually all 24 candidates who took part in the vote and would set another run-off election in two weeks.

Observers believe that a successful election in Guinea would help draw a line under a turbulent year and a half of military rule since the death of President Lansana Conte in 2008, and kick-start further aid and investment.

Guinea is the world’s top exporter of aluminum ore bauxite. Mining firms are lobbying for position to exploit Guinea’s iron ore resources, but stability and return to democracy would be highly beneficial, observers have said.

Bordering Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast, Guinea is considered a lynchpin of instability in the West African a region. A properly courted electoral process would help shore up tentative steps toward democracy in a region infamous for civil wars, coups and flawed voting.

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