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Guinea Postpones Sept. 19 Runoff Vote for “Technical” Reasons

September 16, 2010

Guinea Postpones Sept. 19 Runoff Presidential Vote For `Technical’ Reasons

By Ougna Camara and Franz Wild – Sep 16, 2010

Guinea’s interim president, Sekouba Konate, said a runoff election in the world’s top bauxite- exporting country would be postponed after the nation hit an “impasse” in its transition to democratic rule.

The Sept. 19 runoff had to be delayed for “technical” reasons, Konate said yesterday in a speech aired on Radio Television Guineenne, the Conakry-based broadcaster. Konate didn’t give a new date for the vote.

Konate, an army general who has encouraged the election process, asked the two candidates in the vote “to use all their power to call on their supporters to be calm and serene to enable the transition to proceed properly.”

Guinea hasn’t had a democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from France in 1958. Cellou Dalein Diallo, the former prime minister and frontrunner in the first round of elections in June, and opposition veteran Alpha Conde are likely to seek increased revenue from mining as the country tries to put a history of military rule and poverty behind it.

Konate committed to elections upon taking office in December 2009, when former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara relinquished power after being shot in the head by an aide. Camara had staged a bloodless coup a year before after the death of Lansana Conte, who had ruled Guinea for two decades.

Last weekend supporters of Diallo and Conde clashed in the capital, Conakry, killing one and injuring 50.

“The delay underscores the fragilities of Guinea’s transition,” Rolake Akinola, a London-based analyst with Eurasia Group, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “The country has no precedent for a democratic transition, so this is essentially a political experiment.”

Guinea holds as much as half of the world’s reserves of bauxite, used to make aluminum, more than 4 billion tons of “high-grade” iron ore, “significant” diamond and gold deposits, and uranium, according to the U.S. State Department’s website.

Companies including Vale SA, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, and Chinalco, China’s biggest producer of the metal, are developing projects in Guinea.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ougna Camara in Conakry via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net; Franz Wild in Johannesburg on fwild@bloomberg.net.

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