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EDITORIAL: Conclude Guinea Electoral Process

September 17, 2010

Guinea Oye Note:  Two corrections to information cited in this editorial — Date of the first round of the Guinean presidential was June 27 and the final percentages of votes for the two candidates of the first round are:  Alpha Conde – 18% and Cellou Dalein Diallo 44%.

DAILY TRUST EDITORIAL

Abuja, Nigeria

Conclude Guinea electoral process 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 22:53 –
 

When the people of Guinea went to the polls on June 26, it was the first democratic election since it became independent in 1958. The elections were adjudged by Guineans, and the international community alike, to be free and fair.

Guinea has gone through a very difficult post-colonial history, despite being a mineral-rich country; and that history was marked by the dictatorship of the founding President Ahmed Sekou Toure and his successor, General Lansana Conte, not to mention the tragic killings of pro-democracy activists last year by soldiers of the military regime of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.  The June elections were therefore seen as the harbingers of a new dawn for the country; a process which might unlock the vast potentials which the country possesses.

After several weeks of waiting, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) announced that the 58-year-old Cellou Dalein Diallo of the UFDG, Guinea’s Democratic Forces Union, topped the polls with just about 40 per cent of the votes cast, while the veteran opposition leader, 72-year-old Alpha Conde, leader of the RPG, the Assembly of the People of Guinea, polled about 20 per cent of the votes to come second. Since none of the two scored the mandatory 50 per cent, a run-off was expected to be announced to conclude the process which would lead to the emergence of a democratically-elected president for Guinea. A long period of dithering passed before the 19th of September was named as the date for the run-off.

In preparation for that, the two candidates formed new alliances in an attempt to reach out to other political forces, even when the notorious ethnic divides that dog Guinean politics have remained central to the process. Cellou Dalein Diallo, the leading candidate in the election is Fula, the ethnic group that has the largest population in Guinea and is also economically strongest, but was historically denied access to power from the post-independent period, under Ahmed Sekou Toure. On the other hand, Alpha Conde is Malinke, and they have been the dominant political power group in Guinea, until they were in turn purged by the military dictatorship of Lansana Conte. This struggle for ascendancy has largely marked the political process in the period since the announcement of the date for the presidential run-off.
Last weekend saw a ratcheting up of the political heat when two days of clashes between the two political alliances led to the death of one person and the wounding of 50 in suburbs of Conakry, the capital. In the aftermath, the campaigns were suspended. There was also the controversial sentencing to one year imprisonment of the electoral chief Ben Sekou Sylla by a magistrate in a provincial town, following a petition filed by Alpha Conde. On the day the imprisonment was to be vacated, the electoral chief died in a hospital in Paris. These developments came in the wake of the increasingly partisan stance taken by the interim Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore, who was accused of openly supporting the candidacy of Alpha Conde, and has been attempting to stall the run-off as well as trying to recruit prefects and governors in the country to help manipulate the process to ensure victory for Alpha Conde. This week, Cellou Dalein Diallo called for the resignation of the prime minister because his open partisanship has become untenable, while Guineans in the diaspora also plan to demonstrate as part of calls for the removal of the prime minister.

In all these developments, the military leader General Sekouba Konate has maintained a puzzling silence, which contrasts with his pro-active disposition in the run up to the election of June 26th. That earned him the praises of the international community. However, General Konate is expected to address the nation today during which it is hoped that he will touch all the issues that built up in the run up to the now suspended September 19th run-off election. It is a shame that yesterday night, the Guinean electoral authority suspended the run off and postponed it yet again to the 30th of September. This is an ominous sign that the international community should worry about. The international community, and especially the African Union and ECOWAS, have engaged with the Guinean process since 2008, every step of the way. It is therefore imperative to maintain a sustained pressure on the interim military regime to conclude the electoral process that will lead to the emergence of an elected president. That is what the Guinean people deserve after the nightmare of dictatorship. It is the irreducible minimum to unlock the broad vistas of development for Guinea.

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