Guinea: Violence over presidential election outcome feared

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Results for Guinea’s presidential election are to be announced Monday, November 15, but the stage has been set for a violent showdown after one of the candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo, told a press conference on Sunday he would not accept the result if two contested counties had been included in the overall count.

Partial results released after 1.9 million ballots (over half the electorate) had been counted show Diallo leading by a small margin. According to reports only 23,773 votes separate him [Diallo] from his rival Alpha Conde.

The election has been divided along ethnic lines, and victory by either party is expected to be greeted by violence from the losing party.

As the results went toe-to-toe, Diallo said he would reject the final outcome, if the country’s election commission included the results from Guinea’s northern counties, Kouroussa and Siguiri, in the final tally.

The northern counties of Kouroussa and Siguiri were swept by ethnic riots targeting the Peul in the days before the November 7 ballot, and Diallo who is a Peul claims his constituents were too intimidated to vote.

The National Independent Electoral Commission President Siaka Sangare however assured Diallo’s party that the commission will carefully examine cases where there is tangible evidence of malfeasance.

Diallo also complained that his party could not find representation in many polling stations in Kouroussa and Siguiri, and that they were instead represented by their opponent.

Nonetheless, Sangare told reporters that electoral law does not allow Diallo to annul the provinces without proof of fraud, and he was not in a position to investigate Diallo’s claim of intimidation.

While the country expects to have a democratically elected president today for the first time since independence from France in 1958, Diallo’s statements may have set the tone for violent reactions from either parties.

On Sunday, Diallo’s supporters gathered at the traffic circles of a major highway leading out of the capital, before the street leading to the commission was blocked by trucks full of security forces.

Guinea was a one-party state until the 1990s and has been ruled by military strongmen for the past 26 years. However the country is ready to embrace democracy amidst political violence and ethnic tensions.

The final results of the elections will be released later today, Monday November 15.

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