Conakry, Guinea, Oct 21 – Guinea’s electoral body announced a provisional vote tally for parts of the country Wednesday night, suggesting encouraging results for incumbent President Alpha Conde, after days of violence following the weekend election.
In a broadcast statement, the president of the electoral authority Kabinet Cisse read out results from 16 constituencies, out of 38, in the West African nation.
Conde — who is seeking a controversial third term that has provoked mass protests — won a majority of votes in over half of those constituencies.
The announcement followed a similar one the previous day in which the authority gave him a majority in four constituencies in the capital Conakry.
But the latest update came during days of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces following Sunday’s tense presidential race in the poor nation, which has been beset by months of unrest.
Before the announcement of any official results on Monday, Conde’s main challenger, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68, declared himself victorious in the election — citing results his activists had gathered from individual polling stations.
Opposition supporters are deeply suspicious about the independence of Guinea’s election authority, although the government insists that the electoral process is fair.
Guinea’s security ministry said in a statement that nine people — including one “lynched” police officer — died in the violence across the country of some 13 million people.
The total number of people killed in the post-election unrest remains unclear, however.
It is also unclear when the final election result will be released.
-‘Strategy of chaos’ –
Much of the tension in Guinea centres on Conde’s candidacy.
In March, the octogenarian president pushed through a new constitution which he argued would modernise the country. It also allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidents.
Security forces repressed mass protests against the move from October last year, killing dozens of people.
On Wednesday, plumes of black smoke rose over an opposition stronghold in the capital Conakry, where protesters erected barricades and lit fires.
Youths in alleyways also hurled stones at police officers stationed along a main road who fired back tear gas.
“This strategy of chaos (was) orchestrated to jeopardise the elections of October 18,” Guinea’s security ministry said, adding many people had been injured and property damaged.
In a statement Conde appealed for “calm and serenity while awaiting the outcome of the electoral process”.
– ‘Destroying everything’ –
Ten candidates are in the race besides alongside frontrunners Conde and Diallo, old political rivals who traded barbs in a bitter campaign.
Despite fears of violence after the pre-vote clashes, polling day was mostly calm.
But Diallo’s self-proclaimed election victory ratcheted up tensions, and his supporters’ celebrations descended into violent clashes with security forces on Monday.
The opposition politician said security forces killed three youngsters that night, details AFP was unable to confirm.
Security forces also barricaded Diallo inside his house, the politician said on Tuesday.
Police then raided his party headquarters in Conakry the following day, with the opposition leader tweeting agents were “destroying everything”.
Monitors from the African Union and the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS both said that Guinea’s election was mostly fair, despite insistence from Diallo’s camp it was fraudulent.
Diallo was prime minister under authoritarian leader Lansana Conte — a fact that Conde underscored repeatedly on the campaign trail.
A former opposition activist himself, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.
Rights groups accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism, however, saying he is prone to fits of anger and reluctant to hold his security forces to account.