The West African state of Guinea will hold a run-off in its presidential election later this month after former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo won a first round vote but failed to secure a majority, provisional results showed on Friday. According to the national election commission, CENI, Diallo won 39.72 percent of the ballots in Sunday’s election, well ahead of veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, who came in second with 20.67 percent. If the results are confirmed, the two will face off in a July 18 run-off.
The poll has been billed as the best chance for the West African state, to emerge from over half a century of authoritarian and military rule since winning independence from France in 1958. “Subject to the validation of results by the Supreme Court, the two candidates who have obtained the most votes go forward into the second round,” election commission Ben Sekou Sylla told reporters, saying turnout had totalled 77 percent.
Another former prime minister, Sidya Toure, came in third with 15.6 percent of the vote. A total of 24 candidates lined up for the first-round. They now have eight days to challenge the results in the Supreme Court, which then has three days to make a ruling. Results had been due on Wednesday but Guinea’s Supreme Court gave the election organisers an extra 48 hours to publish results, citing logistical and other problems. The delay came after European Union observers said they were broadly satisfied with the vote while the United States, a major financial backer of the elections, urged political parties not to overstate suspected cases of fraud.
The leading candidates represent the two main ethnic groups in Guinea, the Malinke and the Peul, who represent 35 and 40 percent of the population, respectively. Diallo, 58-year-old leader of the Union des Forces Democratiques de Guinea (UFDG), served as minister and prime minister under long-time ruler Lansana Conte, whose death in late 2008 led to a coup and a year and a half of turbulent military rule. He is a Peul who led demonstrations against Guinea’s military junta. Some critics have accused him of accumulating wealth through his ties to the Conte regime.
At nearly 73, Conde, a Malinke, has a long history in opposition, having challenged all of Guinea’s recent leaders. Given the instability of recent months and the chronic lack of infrastructure in the country, most diplomats and analysts say the poll went as well as could have hoped. A successful poll is likely to lead to more aid, and attract more investors keen to tap into bauxite and iron ore. Third-placed Toure will hold the key, potential king-making role. But, as the stakes rise, so too could the risks.
Guinea’s neighbour, Sierra Leone, has taken a keen interest in the outcome of the elections as President Ernest Bai Koroma is fully aware that Guinea’s political stability is essential in the maintenance of peace in the region. President Koroma has recently called for a free and fair election as Guinea decides to elect its new president.
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