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Senior Guinea Electoral Commission Official Condemns Fraud Conviction of Commission’s President

September 11, 2010

Guinea electoral official condemns colleagues conviction
11/09/10 22:36 GMT

A senior Guinea electoral commission official condemned the fraud conviction of the commission’s president, as several people were hurt Saturday during scuffles between the rival presidential candidates.

“It’s a national disgrace,” Thierno Seydou Bayo, the National Independent Election Commission’s (CENI) head of information, told AFP, after the conviction of CENI’s chief and its head of planning.

Bayo, who was speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the commission, said the convictions were part of moves to force the postponement of the presidential runoff.

A prosecutor announced Friday that CENI chief Ben Sekou Sylla and his head of planning, Boubacar Diallo, had been sentenced to a year in prison for fraud committed during the first round of voting in June.

Both men were tried in their absence and plan to appeal, according to legal sources.

The convictions came less than two weeks before the September 19 presidential runoff between former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde.

Diallo won 43.69 percent in the June first round vote and Alpha Conde took 18.25 percent.

Conde’s Rally for the Guinean People (RPG) party accused Sylla and Diallo of having manipulated the first-round voting records.

On Friday, an aide to Conde, RPG administrative secretary Mohamed Diane, told AFP that: “The leadership of the CENI must be changed.”

Bayo told AFP: “It is the whole of CENI that is being targetted.

“They want … to make us leave so the vote does not take place on September 19.”

He added: “There are people who don’t want to go to the elections, or have no interest in going to the elections, so they are doing everything to divert us (from them).

“Let those who don’t want to go to the elections say so…” he added.

In the capital Conarky meanwhile, 24 people were hurt during clashes between supporters of Conde and Diallo, a spokesman for Diallo’s party said Saturday.

The violence broke out in three separate districts of the city, said an official of the Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UDFG).

The rival groups threw stones at each other until the police and paramilitary gendarmes intervened, said the official.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.

More than three million Guineans, 77 percent of registered voters, took part in June in Guinea’s first democratic poll since independence from France in 1958.

The impoverished west African state has known decades of autocratic or military rule, and is currently led by a military junta headed by General Sekouba Konate.

Most of the political parties claimed voting irregularities and fraud in the first round and the supreme court threw out the votes of two districts of the capital Conakry and three citi

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