New Guinean electoral commission chief appointed amid renewed clash

21:23, October 20, 2010      

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Guinea's interim president Sekouba Konate signed a decree on Tuesday evening, appointing Siaka Toumani Sangare as the new head of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).

The change came only five days ahead of the West African country's second round of presidential elections set for Oct. 24, when Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde will compete for the top post.

Sangare replaced Lounceny Camara who had been elected in early September, after his predecessor Ben Sekou Sylla was sentenced to one year in prison for election fraud and then died of illness in France.

Camara's election was contested by the camp of Diallo, the candidate of the Union of Guinea's Democratic Forces (UFDG), who saw him as a supporter of the rival Alpha Conde of the Rally of Guinean People (RPG).

The presidential decree affirmed that Sangare will ensure good preparation of the second round of presidential elections.

The new CENI chief was the technical assistant at CENI and the Territorial Administration Ministry.

Mohamed Kasse, an official at the presidential office, noted that the decision taken by the transitional authorities was taken after consultations with the international community.

With a few days before the country holds the long-delayed run- off, the crisis surrounding the CENI presidency has raised fears that the elections could be postponed again.

The vote had been previously scheduled for Sept. 19, then put off to Oct. 10 before fixed on Oct. 24.

On Monday and Tuesday, the demonstrations were staged by Diallo's supporters in the capital Conakry to press for the change of the CENI chief. The march paralyzed activities in parts of the capital.

Last week, A dozen CENI members signed a petition proposing El Hadji Foumba Kourouma, the body's rapporteur, be named at the head of CENI as a way out before the polls.

On Oct. 12, the two candidates agreed to form a "government of national unity" irrespective of the outcome of the send round.

"We have met and agreed that irrespective of the Oct. 24 results, we shall form a government of national unity so that all Guineans can take part in the nation building," Conde declared after meeting with the minister of state at the presidency, Tibou Camara.

Diallo confirmed his rival's statement, saying the two parties had agreed to ask their supporters to show restraint and allow the campaigns to go on peacefully.

"Regarding the issue of running the country, we have committed ourselves that we shall work together in a government of national unity regardless of who wins the election," he affirmed.

Guinea held the first round of elections on June 27 peacefully, with the tally showing Diallo scoring nearly 43 percent of votes cast and Conde 18 percent.

Conde immediately contested the results, filing a lawsuit against former CENI chief Sylla on charges of fraud, which he claimed to have cost him votes in key constituencies. The protest lead to a clash in early September with one person reportedly killed and 50 others injured. The planned vote had to be postponed from Sept. 19 to October.

Injuries were also reported on Monday and Tuesday in Conakry in renewed confrontations over the choice of the CENI chief.

Guinea's political crisis was unleashed by a military coup in December 2008, right after the death of president Lansana Conte, who had been in power for 24 years.

In January, an agreement was signed in Burkina Faso to form a transitional government pending a presidential vote to restore democracy and the constitutional order.

Source: Xinhua


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