Guinea election calm, but flawed

2013-09-30 22:37
Election workers count legislative ballots after the close of voting, at a polling station in Conakry, Guinea. (Idrissa Soumare, AP)

Election workers count legislative ballots after the close of voting, at a polling station in Conakry, Guinea. (Idrissa Soumare, AP)

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CONAKRY, Sept 30 - Guinea's long-delayed elections passed calmly but were marred by organisational problems and flawed voting lists, European Union observers said on Monday.

Voters turned out on Saturday after months of political haggling and violent protests for the legislative poll - touted as the completion of the mineral-rich West African country's transition to democracy after a 2008 coup.

Opposition groups had accused the government of trying to rig the vote by leaving people off voting lists in their strongholds and duplicating names in government areas, allegations dismissed by supporters of President Alpha Conde.

Political parties agreed to delay the poll for four days to let the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) make changes to the voting registry.

"The four-day delay only allowed corrective measures announced by the CENI to be implemented very partially and too late," said Christian Preda, head of the EU observers mission.

"Despite important organisational shortcomings in the electoral process, Guineans calmly expressed their will to bring the transition to a close," he added.

Observers have said they are worried any renewed dispute about the results could reignite the street violence which killed dozens of people in the run-up to the vote.

The EU mission found the voting list had not been properly updated and consolidated at a national level, Preda said.

"The publication of the results bureau by bureau on CENI's website would reinforce the credibility of the process."

The political uncertainty has hit investment in Guinea's key mining sector. It has large reserves of iron ore, gold and diamonds and is the world's largest exporter of bauxite, the raw material for manufacturing aluminium.

No party is expected to win an outright majority in the 114-seat National Assembly and coalition-building is expected in the aftermath.

In a country where the president holds real power, the election is seen as a rehearsal for the 2015 presidential race when Conde's five-year term ends.

Tensions mounted in the Kaloum administrative district of Guinea's seafront capital Conakry, where security forces had to intervene to separate groups of pro-government and opposition supporters.

A military police truck blocked the route to the district on Monday.

Results posted on the voting bureaux in Conakry suggested a strong showing by Conde's RPG and two opposition parties: the UFDG led by Cellou Dalein Diallo and the UFR of Sidya Toure.

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