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Campaign for Guinea Legislative Elections Begins: Will the Opposition Boycott?

August 24, 2013
Alpha Conde issued a decree on Thursday setting the time period for legislative election campaigning.  The campaign began Friday and spans until September 22, two days before the September 24 election.  Thirty-three political parties filed candidate lists for 114 seats in the National Assembly.

Alpha Conde has been touring various parts of Guinea, many of them areas he has not visited since his usurpation of the presidency in 2010.  In Kankan and Labe, Conde was met with protests and repression by both police and military forces has been swift resulting in injuries and arrests.  One radio station in Kankan was attacked by government forces and accused of focusing its coverage on anti-Conde demonstrations.  More on this in the next post.
Having thorough experience with Guinea’s electoral commission, the CENI, both during the 2010 presidential election and in preparation for legislative elections, the opposition parties are contemplating the need to boycott the election.  At a press conference last Sunday, president of the UFDG opposition party, Cellou Dalein Diallo, expressed concern about the election.  “We are in a crisis of confidence.   I cannot tell you if we will go to the polls or not because we don’t know for sure that the CENI has conducted the major steps of preparation within strict lines of security.
The opposition held another press conference on August 21, regarding the upcoming elections. Here is a synthesis of the press conference prepared by Xinhua.  Article translated into English via Google with editing by Guinea Oye.
Opposition political parties are threatening to boycott the parliamentary elections.
The political leaders of the Collective block “of political parties to finalize the transition, the Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ADP), Club Republicans (CDR) and the Front for union democracy and progress (FDP) “threaten to boycott parliamentary elections scheduled in September if the security conditions are not met. During a joint press conference held Tuesday by all political opposition leaders, the issue of securing the electoral process and guarantees to support the organization of elections have been the subject of debate and exchange between politicians and the local press. The spokesman of the opposition Aboubacr Sylla denounced the “shenanigans” of the government, which is determined to send only members of its own party, the Rally of the People of Guinea Arc-en-ciel in the upcoming National Assembly of Guinea. According to him, the body responsible for organizing the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), should be criticized for the delay in the electoral timetable which should lead to the effective holding of the said legislation on September 24.

Electoral redistricting, recently conducted by INEC, has raised fears and concerns among the population, despite the announcement of the ruling party saying that it would help get voters to their polling stations throughout the country, said Mr. Sylla. Political leaders have recognized that the increase from 9,000 to 12,000 polling between the 2010 election and now is a positive development. However, this situation may confuse some voters who have been re-assigned from one polling station to another without any opportunity to easily locate prior their polling stations prior to election day.  For the leader of the opposition Cellou Dalein Diallo, President of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), politicians of the opposition can not participate in a vote that INEC wants to organize that does not take into account the clauses in agreements hammered out during a political crisis which took several months of inter-Guinean dialogue driven by an emissary of the international community. “I can not tell you today if we will go to the elections, but we must respect the law,” said Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Jean Marie Dore, president of the Union for the Progress of Guinea (UPG) has accused the INEC of working clandestinely to promote the ruling party’s camp in order to get a landslide victory in the future Guinean Parliament. He feels that this electoral institution has systematically violated election laws and political agreements that guide and govern all stages of the electoral process. “The information filtering process on the organization on the organization of the elections continues to indicate, that various aspects of the election, the latest  of which is “the recent redistricting and increase of the number of polling stations,, is a concern for us,” said Mr. Dore. He added that the international community must do more to prevent manipulation of the electoral file by the government in connivance with INEC.  dkAs for the political leaders of the presidential majority, it is time to prepare for the start of the electoral campaign, the date will be fixed in the coming days.
At a recent meeting between political parties and members of the INEC, Diao Camara, of the presidential movement emphasized that redistricting allows millions of voters to avoid too much back and forth on the day of the vote, especially for citizens in the communities where access is not easy. He urged political leaders to trust that the INEC is determined to keep its promise that it is organizing  transparent and credible elections in the interest of the entire country, without exception. For his part, the president of the CENI, Bakary Fofana, recently reaffirmed in a statement the commitment of the institution to organize fair and credible elections with the participation of all components of Guinean politics, engaged in the race for legislative elections. To date, it is up to members of the technical committee prior to sending forth staff out to the field prior to the election to effectively monitor and control all steps in preparation for the electoral process, thus  avoiding attitudes that can undermine the credibility and reliability that voters will depend on.  The current electoral register includes 5.3 million voters.
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