ECOWAS Urges Calm as Vote Counting in Guinea is Extended
Local residents watch as election workers count presidential votes at an outdoor polling station in Conakry, Guinea, 27 Jun 2010. Guinea on Sunday held its first free election since independence more than half a century ago, a vote many hope will finally end decades of harsh military rule and launch a new democratic era.
Peter Clottey 30 June 2010
The political director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for calm following heightened tensions in Guinea after the electoral commission extended the deadline to announce provisional results of the 27th June elections.
Abdel Fatau-Musah said the regional body has confidence in the integrity of the chairman and the leadership of Guinea’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).
“What is compounding the issue is that all the major candidates, who feel that they must be the ones leading, are becoming jittery and their supporters are jittery. Their leaders are also insinuating that the delay being caused is an excuse to defraud the electoral process. So, there is a lot of tension in the streets,” he said.
Under Guinea’s constitution, the electoral body was required to announce provisional results of last Sunday’s election within 72 hours, which expired late Wednesday.
But, the electoral body petitioned the Supreme Court contending that, due to logistical problems, it would not be able to meet the deadline. After consideration, the Supreme Court extended the deadline giving the electoral commission 48 hours to announce the results of the election. The new extension expires tomorrow (Friday).
But, several opposition groups say the delay is a calculated attempt to rig the vote.
In a statement Wednesday, some of the political parties alleged widespread fraud, including ballot box stuffing in the capital, Conakry, as well as other parts of the country, a charge the electoral commission denies.
ECOWAS political director Musah said the regional body is working hard to ensure the tense situation does not spiral into chaos.
“We are working around the clock to make sure that the electoral commission comes up with the results. And, we are also appealing to the political leaders to exercise maximum restraint and to restrain their followers and to wait patiently for the results to be announced,” Musah said.
Some international poll observers said they found no find evidence of widespread or systematic fraud during Sunday’s vote.
ECOWAS political director Musah said the regional body employed over 200 observers to monitor Guinea’s election.
“What we observed was that there was a deficit in the training for some of the local electoral agents in the districts in particular. But, the electoral commission is doing its work with the maximum honesty that is expected of it. There was no attempt, whatsoever, on the part of the electoral commission, or anybody, to defraud,” Musah said.
Analysts said Sunday’s vote was Guinea’s first free and fair election since it gained independence from former colonial power France in 1958.