Guinea On Time Bomb …Election Result Out Today

Guineans went to the polls on Sunday October 18 to elect a new president, amidst extreme pre-election tension and violence between supporters of the country’s two main political parties.

So tense was the atmosphere in Guinea six months before the elections, up to the eve of the elections that the Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament and a delegation visited the country about a week to observe the election and caution the government, parliamentarians, political stakeholders and the entire nation to exercise calm and restrain.

That notwithstanding, Guinea continues to sit on a ticking time bomb as the nation awaits the result of the presidential elections. On Tuesday morning, an ECOWAS elections monitoring observer reporting from the capital Conakry said that a curfew was imposed on Monday night and that the streets were empty with armed soldiers manning checkpoints.

Signs of a looming electoral dispute began to appear on Sunday when Diallo told reporters Conde could “cheat” his way to power. Guinea’s security minister fired back that Diallo should “return to his senses.”

Tension was reignited when on Monday the Guinean opposition candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo called a meeting to declare that he had won the first round of a high-stakes presidential election, based on provisional results announced by a radio station.

 “Despite the serious anomalies that marred the smooth running of the election and in view of the results that came out of the ballot boxes, I am victorious in this election in the first round,” Diallo told journalists and cheering supporters on Monday, a day after the vote was held.

“I invite all my fellow citizens who love peace and justice to stay vigilant and committed to defend this democratic victory.”

Outside the building in the capital, Conakry, supporters erupted in joy and chanted “Cellou, President.” Elsewhere in the city, security forces fired tear gas canisters at crowds assembling in support of Diallo.

The opposition leader did not give any figures but said the tally was based on his party’s count, not an official tally being conducted by the national election commission.

The elections body deplored his statement, stating that it had not announced any official results, which were expected to be announced on Tuesday, latest Wednesday.

Bakary Mansare, Vice President of the electoral authority on Monday, told the AFP news agency Diallo’s purported victory was “premature” and “void.”

“It is not up to a candidate or a person to proclaim himself the winner outside the bodies defined by the law,” he said.

The electoral commission said Diallo’s claim carried no weight. “The Independent National Electoral Commission is the only body authorized to give provisional results. It is neither for a political party nor for any individual to do so,” Mamadi Kaba, a spokesman for the Commission, told Reuters.  “We regret the attitude of Mr. Diallo and we say that this declaration is null and void,” he added.

Security Minister Damantang Albert Camara earlier accused Diallo’s party of publishing false results, and warned it risked triggering violence.

“This strategy of forced, premature and unjustified celebration was carefully planned well before the election,” Camara said in a statement.

Diallo’s announcement sets the stage for a showdown with the government, which insists Sunday’s vote was fair and the official electoral authority must declare the results.

Guinea‘s government said in a statement late on Monday that Diallo’s statement was irresponsible and could sow confusion and undermine peace in the country. It warned it could launch criminal charges against him.

The ruling party also released a press statement denouncing Diallo’s conduct, stating that they expected better from him as an elderly statesman who has served the country as prime minister.

Diallo, 68, is the main challenger to Guinea’s 82-year-old incumbent President Alpha Conde, who is seeking a third term in office after a constitutional change in March.

Whilst opposition members are deeply suspicious of the fairness of the poll, as well as the independence of Guinea’s electoral authority, polling day was mostly calm. However, it followed months of protests against a third term for Conde which was met with a harsh response by security forces. Dozens of people were killed during the mass demonstrations against Conde’s re-election bid.