Ominous Warning to Candidates from General Balde, Head of Nat’l. Guard and FOSSEPEL, Plus the Lemon Caper
What’s a military man doing telling political candidates what they should or shouldn’t do regarding the results of an election? It’s like the chief of police of a major city telling candidates to play nice or else.
By Richard Valdmanis
CONAKRY (Reuters) – The general leading Guinea’s election security forces on Wednesday urged candidates to accept the outcome of Sunday’s presidential run-off, as authorities issued a fresh batch of results.
Concerns are rising that the West African state’s first free vote since independence in 1958 could rekindle ethnic tensions following a campaign period marked by outbreaks of violence.
“The leaders must understand they have a responsibility to accept the results, for the loser to accept defeat graciously,” General Ibrahim Balde, head of the national guard and electoral security forces, told Reuters.
“If they do not, I do not want to say what will happen. No one wishes it,” he said.
The election is meant to end nearly two years of military rule and could shore up fragile gains at stability in a region known as Africa’s “coup belt”, but experts have said they are concerned about ethnic clashes over the outcome.
Electoral authorities on Wednesday issued a fresh batch of preliminary results showing former prime minister Cellou Dallein Diallo extending a lead over rival Alpha Conde, mostly in precincts that political analysts had forecast he would take.
With more than a third of the vote tallied, Diallo has nearly 60 percent of the ballots cast.
Full provisional results will be published by Friday, Foumba Kourouma, an official at the electoral authority, told Reuters. “It is possible it will be Thursday, but Friday is more likely”.
Guinean law requires full provisional results to be released within three days, though the top court ruled this week that the countdown does not begin until all results are received by the central election authorities, something that has yet to occur.
“We don’t consider this a delay,” electoral commission head General Siaka Sangare told reporters.
International election observers have said Sunday’s vote — which had been delayed for months after the June 27 first round — appeared largely free and fair despite minor deficiencies.
But they warned against extended delays to releasing the full provisional results and called for calm.
Diallo, who is from Guinea’s largest ethnic group, the Peul, has formally contested yet-to-be-published results from two zones over alleged fraud, including the use of lemons by Conde supporters to wash indelible ink from their fingers so they could vote twice.
Conde comes from Guinea’s second largest ethnicity, the Malinke and rival camps clashed repeatedly during the campaign period since the first round in June.
Political analysts have said Diallo’s chances at winning the presidency rest with an alliance he made with the third-place finisher in the first-round, Sidya Toure, and whether Toure’s largely Sou Sou supporters respected it on election day.
Diallo took more than 43 percent of the first round vote to Conde’s nearly 19 percent.
Guinea is the world’s largest supplier of the aluminium ore bauxite, and its iron ore riches have drawn billions of dollars of planned investment from companies like Rio Tinto and Vale.
Both candidates have said they would review mining contracts, though neither is expected to take an aggressive approach given the importance of resource revenues.