Elections in Guinea may be postponed because of violence

Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore of Guinea has said that maintaining public order was more important than holding an election that was  planned for September. Apparently, in a statement, he stopped short of announcing a delay in the poll. The Prime Minister’s comments are  the strongest sign yet of a possible delay in the country’s elections after a weekend of violence between backers of the two top candidates: Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde.

In a statement on state television, Dore said “We are due to hold an election on the 19th (but) the conditions must be right. The most important of these conditions is security, the priority must be given to public order as an election is not possible if there is chaos. Extra forces were deployed by the Police around the country’s capital Conakry on Monday after the fighting between supporters of rivals in the run-off left one dead and 50 injured. Authorities had to suspend all campaigning and rallies before Sunday’s decisive second-round vote but because of the violence. Up until now, there had been no word on the possibility of delaying the elections.

The EU and the US had called on rival political factions to refrain from violence. An official in the country’s police force, said security forces were watching the large Conakry market of Madina where witnesses said stallholders had shut their shops and some had gathered stones for possible use if more fighting broke out. The market is seen as a potential flashpoint as it houses large groups of Guinea’s two main ethnicities — Peuls who largely backed former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo in the first round, and Malinke who mainly back his rival Alpha Conde. No major incidents were reported as both candidates met the prime minister over a possible decision to restart campaigning. Sierra Leone’s president Ernest Koroma, recently travelled to neighbouring Guinea to urge the leaders to ensure that the elections are carried out without violence  and intimidation.

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