Diallo poised to win Guinea poll
Conakry - Ex-prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo is seen as almost certain of victory in Guinea's second round presidential vote after winning the endorsement of a key rival, observers said on Thursday.
Diallo, 58, who won a first round of voting on June 27 in the country's first democratic election since independence in 1958, took a giant step closer to the presidential palace in forming an alliance with third runner-up Sidya Toure.
He is facing off against Alpha Conde, 73, who has been an opponent to each one of the three heads of state in Guinea since independence and is making his third bid at the top job.
After winning 43.69% of votes in the first round compared to Conde's 18.25%, mathematically speaking, Diallo will have a significant head start if he garners the 13.62% from Toure's party.
Almost in the palace
"The leader of the UFDG (Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, Cellou Dalein Diallo) is 80% closer to the presidential palace," a political analyst, speaking anonymously, told a private radio station.
"Barring a miracle, Cellou Dalein Diallo will be the next president of Guinea," said a commentator on another private radio station.
Toure, another former prime minister in the west African nation, on Wednesday announced his Union of Republican Forces "will give its vote to Cellou Dalein Diallo in the presidential election".
Toure said that Diallo, an economist by trade who was prime minister from 2004 to 2006, was someone he "knows well" and had worked with for three years.
Diallo was a member of Toure's government from 1996 to 1999 under the presidency of late president Lansana Conte who died in 2008 after 24 years of military rule.
In exchange for his support, the UFR has been offered the posts of prime minister, presidency of the economic and social council and several ministries, according to sources from the party.
"This alliance (...) is symbolic because the four parties which decided to join forces set themselves the goal of bringing Guineans together to promote democracy and brotherhood in our country," said Diallo.
He was referring to the four main parties supporting him in the second round - the date of which has yet to be announced.
Alpha Conde has also won the support of some smaller parties. However, this is unlikely to be enough to bridge the gap and secure a victory over Diallo.
The historic first round election was seen as something of a miracle in the country, which just nine months ago was plunged into a nightmare as soldiers gunned down a crowd of opponents to a military junta in a Conakry stadium, killing over 150.
But despite being praised as peaceful, several parties launched accusations of ballot-stuffing and voting irregularities
Conde said: "This time we will not allow the votes of our members to be stolen, and if they are we will get our members to mobilise."
"We want peace in this country but we do not want people to be hampered when they have the opportunity to freely choose their president," he added.
After half a century of civilian and military dictatorships, 77% of registered voters turned out to vote in the closely-watched first round poll in the country which, while poor, has vast mineral resources such as aluminium ore.