African Union Urges Guinea to Hold Runoff Presidential Election by August 22

African Union Urges Guinea to Hold Runoff Presidential Election by Aug. 22
By Ougna Camara – Aug 4, 2010

The African Union said Guinea should hold a second round of elections as soon as possible, after the vote was postponed indefinitely last month.

The run-off should take place no later than Aug. 22, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore told reporters yesterday in the Guinean capital, Conakry. Compaore was appointed in January by the AU to mediate an end to a political crisis in the West African nation.

“We have to seize this opportunity” to show that Africa is capable of managing elections, Compaore said.

Former Guinean Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo won 43.7 percent of the vote in the first round of the election, while Alpha Conde, the leader of the Rally for the Guinean People, garnered 18.2 percent. A runoff was scheduled for July 18 before being postponed indefinitely after political parties lodged complaints with the Supreme Court about voting irregularities.

On July 27, the electoral commission proposed the run-off be held on Aug. 14.

Twenty-four candidates competed in elections on June 27, a year and a half after army Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power following the death of former President Lansana Conte, who ruled for two decades. The West African nation hasn’t had a democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from France in 1958.

Guinea is the world’s biggest exporter of bauxite, a raw material used in aluminum production. Companies including United Co. Rusal, the largest aluminum producer, and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the world’s third-biggest gold-mining company, have operations in the country.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ougna Camara in Conakry via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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Burkina Faso President and ECOWAS Rep., Blaise Compaore, Urges Guinea to Quickly Organize Run-Off Election

Mediator Urges Guinea to Quickly Organize Run-Off Election 

Anne Look | Dakar 04 August 2010

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, right, greets Guinea presidential frontrunner Cellou Dalein Diallo, as he meets with members of the transitional government and presidential candidates at the People's Palace in Conakry, Guinea, 3 Aug 2010

Photo AP:  Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, right, greets Guinea presidential frontrunner Cellou Dalein Diallo, as he meets with members of the transitional government and presidential candidates at the People’s Palace in Conakry, Guinea, 3 Aug 2010
West Africa’s mediator to Guinea and Burkino Faso President Blaise Compaore is urging Guinea to organize the second round of presidential elections as soon as possible.  

Guinea held the first round of its presidential poll on June 27.  Many of the first-round candidates contested provisional results, but on July 20 the Supreme Court overruled those challenges and announced official results.

According to Guinea’s electoral code, a run-off between the two top-scoring candidates could take place two weeks later, but the electoral commission has not announced a date for the second round.

Tuesday in Conakry, Burkinabe president and regional mediator to Guinea, Blaise Compaore, urged the country not to delay in organizing the poll.

Mr. Compaore says the second round should be organized as quickly as possible.  He says if you allow a lot of space and time between two rounds of voting, new complications can arise that disrupt the electoral process.  He says Guinea is setting an example for other countries and should not let the opportunity slip through its fingers.

The presidential poll is meant to return the country to civilian government after a military coup in December 2008.

The Economic Community of West African States appointed Mr. Compaore to mediate the Guinea crisis after a military attack on an opposition protest in September of last year left 150 dead and sparked international investigations.

A regionally-backed transitional government was set up in January to organize presidential elections.

The head of the transitional government, General Sekouba Konate, says much remains to be done before Guinea can pronounce its mission accomplished.  He says the first round of voting was organized in peace, order and discipline.  He says that vote may not have been perfect, but it enabled Guinea to advance in what has turned out to be a more complicated task than anticipated.

Former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo led the first round of voting and long-time opposition leader, Alpha Conde, came in second.  Mr. Diallo has called for the second round to take place this month.

Election authorities in Guinea say they are working to set a date for the run-off and to fix logistical challenges and irregularities seen in the first round of voting.

President Compaore says every country encounters difficulties in organizing elections, but it is encouraging to see Guinea moving toward a second round with the intention of repairing imperfections and shortcomings to make that vote truly transparent.

Many hope the poll will be Guinea’s first free and fair presidential poll since independence and mark an end to more than 50 years of authoritarian rule in the West African country

Dadis Camara, Guinea’s Former Military Junta Leader, Now in Bamako, Mali

NOTE:  Malian media are reporting that the initial report that Dadis Camara was in Bamako, Mali is incorrect.  Camara continues to convalesce in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. 

Burkinabe president arrives in Guinean capital
 

APA-Conakry (Guinea) The head of state of Burkina Faso and mediator in the crisis in Guinea, Blaise Compaore, arrived in Conakry on Tuesday for a visit aimed at strengthening cooperation relations between the two countries, but also reviving the electoral process in that country.

During his visit, Compaore will meet with the various actors in the transition process to gather the views of all parties on the presidential runoff whose date has not yet been set.

The case of the former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara who reportedly transferred to Bamako, Mali after seven months of convalescence in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, is among key issues the mediator will discuss with his hosts.

When Moussa Dadis Camara was shot by his former aide Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakite on 3 December, President Compaore chartered a plane to take Dadis to Morocco for treatment.

Diakite shot Camara following a violent dispute over the 28 September events which resulted in several deaths, injuries and numerous human rights violations.

King Mohamed VI of Morocco had transferred Moussa Camara Dadis to Burkina in January, following improvement in his health.

Some Western powers had favoured his transfer to an international court for the massacres perpetrated by some of his guards on 28 September.

A UN probe commission indicated his responsibility for these killings as commander in chief of the army.

Burkina Faso President in Guinea to Serve as Mediator in Guinea Election Delays

West Africa mediator in Guinea as poll tensions rise

Tue Aug 3, 2010 1:21pm GMT

* West African mediator in Guinea to seek end to impasse

* No date set yet for second round of presidential vote

* Tensions rise over date, preparations for poll

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Aug 3 (Reuters) – West Africa’s mediator for Guinea began a mission on Tuesday to ease tensions stemming from a hotly contested first round of voting in presidential elections and to firm up dates for the run-off.

Guinea, the world’s top exporter of bauxite, made tentative steps towards a return to civilian rule after months of instability with a June 27 poll that was broadly accepted by observers and, eventually, all those that took part.

The top two contenders have unveiled coalitions with losing first-round candidates, and the first round’s leader Cellou Dallein Diallo is still seen favourite.

But Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso who has been nominated Guinea’s mediator West Africa’s ECOWAS body, will have to ease concerns over slipping dates for the run-off, first slated for July, and the abilities of the election commission to fix problems that arose during the first round.

“We will contact all the actors involved in order to identify and correct the shortcomings identified in the first round,” Compaore said on Guinean television after arriving.

Conde has complained that he was robbed of votes in the first round as the election commission did not send enough voting material to Haute Guinea region, which is home to many from his Malinke ethnic group.

He has issued a warning for the second round. “After the first round, we said that we would accept the results because we wanted peace. But if these manoeuvres are repeated in the second round, we will unleash our supporters,” Conde said.

In the first round, Conde scored 18.25 percent of the vote, far behind Diallo’s 44 percent, but on Monday he secured the backing of former Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate, a move that will galvanise the Malinke vote for him. The Malinke make up about 35 percent of Guinea’s population.

Diallo has said he is confident of a victory in the run-off after signing a deal with third placed Sidya Toure, who took 13.62 percent of votes in the first round, and sixth placed Abe Sylla with 3.23 percent.

SEEKING PROMISES

Some critics accuse the interim administration, which is headed by Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore and overseen by the military rulers, of seeking to prolong their stint in power.

Diallo has expressed his impatience over the delays and says a second round of voting must take place this month.

Analysts have said the delay could allow the election commission to rectify some logistical problems from the first round of voting, but diplomats are eager to see the soldiers who seized power in a 2008 back in their barracks.

July 18 was first proposed for the run-off but that slipped as challenges to the first round results were heard by the Supreme Court. Since then Guinean media have circulated a number dates but none have been confirmed.

“No date has been put forward for the second round,” said Foumba Kourouma, a spokesman for the election commission, CENI.

“We have a meeting today to try and settle on a date and propose it to the different parties,” Kourouma added.

Guinea’s election is seen as its best chance at drawing a line under decades of authoritarian rule since independence from France in 1958, and could help cement fragile gains in stability in a region rocked by three civil wars in a decade.

But progress in the country is still fragile

“We need the firm commitment from the CENI and promises from the two candidates in the second round that they will accept the results before we decide on a date,” said Tibou Kamara, secretary general in the presidency. (Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Richard Valdmanis)

Carson, Asst. Sec. of State for Africa, on Guinea: Wants Civilian/Military ECOWAS Observer Force

Excerpt on Guinea from AllAfrica.com interview with Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson: 

Africa: Carson Cites ‘Powerful Success Stories’ and Reiterates U.S. Commitment to Political and Economic Progress

Reed Kramer

28 February 2010

Excerpt on Guinea

How do you view the prospects for democracy in Guinea (Conakry) and how do you assess the leadership role played by Ecowas in both Niger and Guinea?

Ecowas has been very active. The Ecowas special envoy for Niger, former General (and former Nigerian head-of-state) Abdulsalami Abubakar, has played a very useful role there.


The outgoing head of Ecowas, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has done an outstanding job. He’s been one of the finest international civil servants on the continent over the last decade, and he will be greatly missed. (Chambas stepped down after nine years at Ecowas to become secretary general of the Brussels-based Secretariat of the 79-member group of African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations on March 1).

But another leader stepped up to the plate and delivered on Guinea, and that’s President Blaise Compaoré (Burkina Faso). He has played a positive role in encouraging a swift return to civilian government in Conakry. He has taken in the former military ruler, Dadis Camara, who still needs medical attention for the severe wounds he suffered [in an assassination attempt in December]. If the situation in Guinea-Conakry had gotten further out of control, if Dadis Camara had come back, if the military had attempted to retain its power, then instability in Guinea would have had a spillover effect into Liberia and other regional countries.

I’m optimistic. A civilian-led transitional government is in power. The military has moved off to the side. None of the individuals who were involved in the coup or in the violent events that occurred [during a pro-democracy demonstration] at the end of September in the stadium will be allowed to run for office, and there’s still a commitment to hold elections within the six months agreed to by all the parties.

Everyone seems to be supportive of the Ouagadougou accords that were worked out by President Compaoré, and I think it’s important that Ecowas and the international community continue to play a monitoring role in that country. I would like to see a small Ecowas civilian and military observer force on the ground. It would provide additional diplomatic eyes and ears for the Ecowas community. It provides confidence and reassurance to the civilian population who has been betrayed before. And it provides a watchdog to let the military know that their actions will be seen by the international community.

Do you think it will happen?

There’s a possibility that it may, closer to the election. It would be a useful vehicle, and it also would be a nice precedent for Ecowas to have observer missions – not a peacekeeping force, but a small civilian and unarmed military observer mission to help ensure that security and political situations are handled in the appropriate fashion.

At this point, I remain positive about what I see in Guinea and, again, applaud President Compaoré for his efforts. There is also a nod to be given to Morocco, particularly Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri, because he was very helpful in the early stages as well.

GUINEA Electoral Commission Meets with Donors

Guinea Electoral Commission Meets with Donors

Scott Stearns | Dakar 24 January 2010

Guinea’s electoral commission and international donors are discussing plans to organize elections in six months.  The vote is part of a regionally-backed transitional authority meant to end more than one year of military rule.

Guinea’s National Independent Electoral Commission and international donors are meeting for the first time since regional mediator Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore reached the interim government deal with Guinea’s military leaders.

The talks are expected to focus on a timetable for voter and candidate registration as well as a preliminary budget for the cost of holding elections within six months.

Jean-Marie Dore will be the country’s new interim prime minister.  He says keeping to that schedule presents considerable challenges for one of the world’s poorest countries.

Mr. Dore says the transition could be one month or it could be three years, depending on what has already been done with voter registration.  While he says the transitional government will work to meet the six-month deadline, everything does not depend on the government. 

Mr. Dore says the success of the election will depend on its organization.  And if there is not enough money to organize it properly, he says Guinea will continue to struggle.

The U.N. Secretary Generals’ special representative for West Africa Said Djinnit says the six-month timetable can be met, but only if things are done quickly with proper support.

“This is a window of opportunity that should be seized by national stake-holders but also by international stake-holders to ensure that this time around we can help the country exit from the crisis and return to constitutional order,” he said.

Guinea has been under military rule since a December 2008 coup that brought to power Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.  He was shot last month by the former head of the presidential guard who says Captain Camara was trying to blame him for the killing of at least 157 opposition protesters in September.

While Captain Camara continues to recover from those wounds in Burkina Faso, Defense Minister Sekouba Konate is Guinea’s acting military ruler.  He and the interim prime minister  will oversee the 101-member transitional authority.

Djinnit met with General Konate and Mr. Dore before the electoral commission meeting.

“I believe that all are keen to go through the shortest transition possible that will allow for preparing for the election as soon as possible, but also giving some time for some socio-economic support because I think it is very important that before the people of Guinea go to elections that the people could see the dividends of reconciliation in terms of resuming support by the international community, by the international financial institutions, and the key bilateral partners of Guinea to make sure that all efforts will converge towards making this opportunity a reality and returning quickly to democratic rule,” he said.

Djinnit was joined in Conakry by the head of the Economic Community of West African States Commission, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and by African Union representative Ibrahim Fall.

Djinnit says the international community understands that Guinea will need strong support to meet its goal of having elections in June.

German Ambassador Karl Prinz told Guinea’s state television that the European Union is prepared to resume cooperation with the new government, will support the presidential elections, and will contribute to reforming the country’s military.

 
 
 

GUINEA: Dore Says Not Bound by Transitional Gov’t Deal

Prime Minister Dore is already talking about possible delay.

Dore says the transition could be one month. Or it could be three years. It all depends on evaluating what has already been done with voter registration. Dore says the transitional government will work to meet the six-month deadline. But everything does not depend on the government. If there is not money, it will take more time.

 

VOA NEWS

Guinea Interim PM Says He is Not Bound by Transitional Government Deal

January 22, 2010

The deal states that all members of the 101-member transitional government and the existing ruling military council are barred from running in elections planned for June.

Scott Stearns | Dakar 22 January 2010
Guinea’s new civilian prime minister says he is not bound by terms of a deal for the transitional government that includes blocking him from running for president.

It took less than one week for the hope surrounding Guinea’s transitional government to turn to doubt with the new interim prime minister saying he will not rule out running for president himself.

Veteran politician Jean Marie Dore was appointed prime minister this week by acting military leader General Sekouba Konate as part of a deal reached with the regional mediator – Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore – and Guinea’s injured military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

That deal states that all members of the 101-member transitional government and the existing ruling military council are barred from running in elections planned for June.

But Prime Minister Dore says he has agreed to nothing.

Mr. Dore says the proposal of President Compaore is not an agreement, it is just a proposal. These proposals were given to both Guinea’s civil society leaders and the country’s ruling military council. And civil society leaders did not agree with its terms. He says President Compaore, General Konate, and Captain Camara signed what they call the Ouagadougou Accord. But that is not correct. it is nonsense.

Mr. Dore says he does not know the terms of the agreement between the Burkinabe leader and Guinea’s military. They can give their own opinion. But civil society groups were not present during last week’s talks in Burkina Faso. So, for them, it is not an accord until all parties agree.

He says mediators should only sign settlements as a witness once everyone agrees. Because Guinea’s civil society has not yet agreed, Mr. Dore says, it is a bit bizarre that President Compaore is calling this an accord.

The prime minister says he will not answer the question of his potential candidacy until he meets further with General Konate and other members of the transitional government once they are appointed.

Mr. Dore’s rival for the post of interim prime minister, labor leader Rabiatou Serah Diallo, says a politician should not have been chosen to help lead the transitional authority because it will raise questions about the impartiality of the elections to follow.

She says union leaders are ready to support Mr. Dore to get Guinea out of its political crisis but will, in her words, be “very vigilant” about watching his neutrality.

Having elections in six-months presents considerable logistical challenges for one of the world’s poorest countries.

Prime Minister Dore is already talking about possible delay.

Dore says the transition could be one month. Or it could be three years. It all depends on evaluating what has already been done with voter registration. Dore says the transitional government will work to meet the six-month deadline. But everything does not depend on the government. If there is not money, it will take more time.

Dore says the success of this election depends on its organization. And that depends on the means to organize it properly. If these means are not available, he says, Guinea will continue to struggle.