Guinea election body sets Sunday run off poll

October 27, 2010 12:00 am

, CONAKRY, Oct 27 – Guinea\’s election body has set Sunday as the date for the twice-delayed second round of the country\’s presidential election, officials said Tuesday.

The head of the election commission, Malian General Siaka Sangara, said he had "formally presented" the proposed date to the head of Guinea\’s transition government General Sekouba Konate who is required to confirm the date by decree.

Sangara said the date had been decided after "extensive consultations" with all the main political participants, including the two candidates, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde.

He was addressing members of the transition government and the candidates in Conakry.

The run-off vote, initially due on October 24, was postponed for the second time as rival parties accused each other of inciting violence and disrupting the organisation of the vote.

The first round of voting in June went off peacefully, raising hopes that 25 years of military rule and despotism would finally be brought to an end in the poor but bauxite-rich west African nation.

However accusations of fraud and mutual mistrust have led to violent clashes as political and ethnic tensions rise.

Diallo, of Fulani ethnicity, said the date was "too soon" and that clashes had led to massive displacement of people who would be unable to vote on Sunday.

"This is the first time that I request a postponement but the situation requires time to heal wounds and restore trust between citizens and communities," he said.

His opponent Conde, of the Malinke ethnic group, said he had "no objection" to elections taking place on Sunday.

On Tuesday human rights organisations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the brutality of security forces in quelling election protests, which it said left one dead, 60 injured and over 100 arrested.

For his part Burkina Faso\’s president Blaise Compaore, mediator of the Guinea crisis, expressed "regret" over the recent violence.

"We appeal once again to Guineans to remain serene," Compaore said on the sidelines of a meeting in Ouagadougou with Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

Amnesty International said that security forces had fired indiscriminately at unarmed civilians, beaten protesters and ransacked homes during the clashes.

"This ruthless and reckless reaction to the protests is the latest example of violence by Guinea\’s security forces, whose brutality habitually goes unpunished," said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International\’s Guinea researcher.

The two candidates in Guinea\’s presidential election have called for calm, asking their followers to avoid ethnic tensions, while the violence was condemned by Konate who has said he is "in a hurry" to hand over power.

Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore also called on both candidates to "control their language, their supporters and their electorate."

The brutality of Guinea\’s security forces has been highlighted during the country\’s deepening political crisis, notably during the massacre of over 150 opposition supporters in a Conakry stadium in September 2009.

Dakar-based human rights group RADDHO warned Tuesday Guinea was facing the threat of a military coup or civil war due to "a dangerous spiral of ethnic violence" if the democratic transition failed.


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