September 19 has been set as the date when Guinea will hold a run-off presidential election aimed at restoring civilian rule to the country. This date marks a two-month delay to the final second-round after candidates challenged the results of the initial poll held on June 27. A government decree read out on state television said “The date of the second round of the presidential election has been fixed for September 19, 2010.” Guinea has been run by a military junta since the death of President Lansana Conte and a subsequent bloodless coup in December 2008.
In the run-off former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo will stand against veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde. The two men differ little in policy proposals and have both said they plan to review billions of dollars’ worth of mining deals, signed by multinational companies such as Vale and Rio Tinto. The election is seen as Guinea’s best chance of 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. Cellou Dallein Diallo, who won 44 percent of the vote in the first round, has said he is confident of victory in the run-off after signing a deal with third-placed Sidya Toure, who took 13.62 percent of the initial vote.
Meanwhile, Conde, who took 18.25 percent in first round but has complained he was robbed because the election commission did not send enough voting material to Haute Guinea region, home to many from his Malinke ethnicity. Alpha Conde has since secured the backing of fourth-placed Lansana Kouyate, a move that will further galvanise support from the Malinke which make up 35 percent of Guinea’s population. “We hope that, at this point, all of the dysfunction we’ve seen will be fixed,” Conde said on state television after the announcement of the run-off date. Guinea’s neighbour, Sierra Leone, has taken keen interest in the elections as thousands of Guineans are resident in the country and President Ernest Koroma has helping to ensured a peaceful and democratic transition of power in Guinea during this election process.
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