Guinea: New electoral chief appointed amid clashes, theft, fire

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Guinea’s junta leader General Sekouba Konte has named a Malian citizen to head the national independent electoral commission after consultations with international representatives on how to ensure the long-delayed presidential runoff elections due on Sunday.

Disagreements over the composition of Guinea’s electoral commission have divided the troubled West African country and threatened to cause yet another delay of the presidential runoff that could decide the country’s first democratically elected president.

According to reports, Siaka Toumani Sangare of the Organization International de la Francophonie — the global French-speaking community, was appointed head of Guinea’s electoral commission.

Gen. Konte had promised the international community he would ensure a return to democracy after overseeing an election runoff due on Sunday, and his decision to appoint a foreigner to the highly pivotal position has been considered an extraordinary move by political rivals in Guinea.

However, appointing a neutral electoral commission head has done little to quell the tensions in Guinea ahead of Sunday’s election runoffs following an alleged clash between Police forces, security forces and supporters of the Union for the Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) early Tuesday in the capital.

The police forces were accused of shooting live ammunition in various neighborhoods that support UFDG presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo. UFDG’s supporters also claim to have been hit with belts and batons.

Fire and Theft

After the September 16 fires that engulfed a warehouse at the Almany Samory Touré military camp in Conakry where voting materials for the upcoming second round presidential elections were being stored, election board officials have again complained that 17 computers which were to be used to calculate poll results had disappeared from the board’s offices.

Following reports that the computers were hidden and there was no sign that anyone forced entry to the room in which they were stored,
observers have said that the stolen computers have “the air of an act of sabotage” aimed at disrupting the vote.

Meanwhile, transitional leader General Konate has announced that campaigns for the West African nation’s presidential election which resumed on Monday, will end on October 22, two days before the vote.

Guinean’s will return to the polls on October 24 for a second round run-off to choose between two civilian candidates, Diallo who won 43 percent of votes in the first round) and Alpha Conde who won 18 percent.

Guinean’s hope to bring an end to decades of autocratic or military rule in the mineral-rich west African country, which has been one of the poorest nations in the world since independence from France in 1958.

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