Guinea says to hold run-off on Sept. 19 after consultations

17:59, August 10, 2010      

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Guinea has decided to hold the presidential run-off on Sept. 19 after intensive consultations amid speculation about irregularities in the first-round elections held weeks ago.

The country's Interim President Sekouba Konate announced the delayed date in a decree broadcast by Guinean official TV station RTG on Monday night.

The decision was made following a meeting attended by Konate, Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore, other members of the transitional government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Monday morning, Guineenews reported citing official sources.

Participants supported the proposal by the CENI to organize the second round on Sept. 19 to avoid the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on Sept. 12, said the report.

The two candidates to enter the second round, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, have responded favorably to the choice of the date, according to Guineenews.

The development came to the relief of both Guineans and the international community after a series of delays in the process.

Although the first round was widely considered as peaceful, the process seemed to hit a snag immediately afterwards.

Under Guinea's election law, the presidential run-off should be organized two weeks after the publication of the definitive results of the first round by the Supreme Court. But the publication itself was delayed until July 21 amid complaints about irregularities.

Conde in one case accused the CENI of failing to provide enough voting materials to his stronghold in Haute Guinea, causing him losses of support. He also challenged the official results after its publication, vowing never to allow a repetition in the second round.

The tally showed that Diallo, the former prime minister and the leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), won 43. 69 percent of the votes cast, while Conde of the Rally of Guinean People (RPG) scored 18.25 percent of the total. Both men were accorded the legal status to enter the second round.

The CENI seemed less confident about its preparatory work for the run-off, demanding the Supreme Court postpone the date again after it failed to take place on schedule on July 18.

"The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is empowered to impose a moratorium on the organization of the second round of the presidential vote," the court said in response on Thursday.

Prime Minister Dore has also warned against an anarchic presidential run-off.

"It is fundamental to correct all the imperfections and registration deficiencies in the first round before launching a date for the second round," he said in a statement.

In the backdrop of uncertainty and mounting pressure around the election date, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore made a brief visit to Guinea early last week to make sure all parties concerned would reach consensus on the issue.

Compaore was named the mediator for the Guinea crisis by the West African bloc ECOWAS last year. In January, Compaore and Guinean politicians signed an agreement in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to end the crisis which erupted following a military coup in the country in December 2008.

Compaore was followed by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, another regional power broker, on a mission last week to bring together Guinean politicians on an election date.

Conde is now enjoying the backing of former prime minister Lansana Kouyate and more than a dozen other candidates loosing the first round.

But Diallo claims an even bigger gain in the run-up to the final round, with Sidya Toure, another former prime minister, deciding to side with him.

Toure and Kouyate ended the third and fourth respectively in the first round.

Analysts say the smooth voting is in dire need to bring Guinea out of the crisis, as the situation remains fragile and could become volatile in a country repeatedly hit by coups and instability since its independence from France in 1958.

The success will also be an encouragement to efforts to restore stability in West Africa, where a series of coups and coup attempts have been reported in recent years. In a latest case, the military toppled Nigerien president Mamadou Tandja in February. The junta has pledged to surrender power after a transitional period, vowing not to take part in the future presidential vote.

Source: Xinhua


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