SCENARIOS: Guinea’s Next Steps on Road to Civilian Rule
* Supreme Court verdict on first-round due in 11 days
* Political deal-making seen before July 18 run-off
* Govt could include former rivals
By Daniel Magnowski
CONAKRY, July 5 (Reuters) – Guinea’s landmark June 27 election has left former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo in pole position for a run-off vote later this month aimed at restoring civilian rule in the West African state.
Diallo will face veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde in the July 18 head-to-head after an election process praised for peaceful conduct and overall transparency, while marked by some complaints of fraud attempts and irregularities. Here are scenarios for how the crucial few next weeks could shape up.
Provisional results released on Friday gave Diallo 39.72 percent and Conde 20.67 percent while third- and fourth-placed candidates Sidya Toure and Lansana Kouyate won 15 percent and just under 10 percent each.
Between now and the second round, Diallo and Conde will try to pick up as much support as they can from the first round losers. Thus if Toure were to pledge his support to Diallo that in itself could push Diallo comfortably over 50 percent.
A Toure-backed Conde would in theory amass more support than before, but Diallo’s own support — with the firm backing of the Peul ethnic group that makes up 40 percent of the population — would still put him in front. Either way, there is no guarantee that Toure or Kouyate’s supporters would vote as their leader asks.
Conde, who won fewer votes than had been expected, will have the tougher job attracting backers. Diallo may offer Toure and Kouyate top cabinet jobs in exchange for allegiance. Even then a wipeout majority is unlikely as Conde’s Malinke ethnic group accounts for around a third of voters and will remain loyal.
CHALLENGE COURT Conde and Toure are already contesting results. Candidates have eight days from Monday to take their appeal to the Supreme Court, which then has three days to make its ruling.
Conde’s party the Assembly of Guinean People (RPG) has been particularly noisy about what it says have been irregularities and fraud attempts. But even it is challenging results from only around 150 polling stations, out of more than 8,000 nationally.
Toure’s Union of Republican Forces (UFR) has also cried foul, but neither party claims to be the victim of a deliberate, organised, large-scale campaign of fraud to deny it victory.
Election organisers, as well as the foreign countries and organisations which donated $41 million to pay for the vote, have appealed to aggrieved politicians to take their complaints to court rather than the street, and abide by whatever legal rulings are handed down. The caretaker government banned marches called for Monday through the streets of Conakry, insisting that parties should await the court’s verdict.
The eventual winner is likely to try to form an inclusive government drawing on rival parties. International bodies stress the next government should represent Guineans as a whole to qualify for the aid needed to rebuild the economy.
The next president could well name a direct rival as his prime minister, and give portfolios such as the mines ministry, finance ministry and foreign ministry to leading candidates from the first round. In this way, Diallo, Conde, Toure and Kouyate can all expect to play a role in Guinea’s next government. Of those four, only Conde has not already served as prime minister.
The president will have a substantially free hand to make the appointments of his choice without the need for formal parliamentary backing. Only later this year — at a date to be announced — will Guineans vote in legislative elections.
KEEPING THE ARMY ON BOARD
General Sekouba Konate, the soldier who replaced the erratic Moussa Dadis Camara as junta leader and pledged to restore civilian rule, has announced promotions for most of the army as reward for maintaining discipline and peace during the election.
However sections of the military used to wielding influence over the country could push for further emoluments as a pay-off for handing control of the country back to civilians. Analysts say army reform — which might mean lucrative golden handshakes for senior officers — is required for longer-term stability.
Further measures might also be needed to deal with elements of support for Camara within the ranks, either by integrating them more closely into the army or kicking them out. But fears that his backers would try to wreck the vote have not been realised so far. (Editing by Mark John)