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Second round of presidential poll postponed

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-16

The Guinean electoral commission has announced that the second round of the presidential vote, scheduled for Sept. 19, has been postponed. The decision comes after a weekend of clashes between supporters of rival candidates.

REUTERS - Guinean authorities said on Wednesday a presidential run-off would be delayed by as much as two weeks because of organisational failings, a move some fear could trigger unrest.
The poll is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule in the junta-led West African bauxite exporter and could be its best chance at ending an era of harsh authoritarian rule since independence from France in 1958.
* The decision to delay the vote could anger Guinea's biggest ethnic group, the Peul, raising the risk of ethnically driven clashes.
Cellou Dallein Diallo, a former prime minister who was well ahead in June's first round, belongs to the Peul ethnicity which accounts up 40 percent of the population and had been pushing for the run-off to take place as planned on Sept. 19.
"A delay means the Peul will not be happy. They will see this as a victory snatched from them," said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, analyst at Damina Advisors.
Diallo's rival, veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde belongs to Guinea's second-largest ethnicity, the Malinke, making up 35 percent of the country's population.
Conde has led the effort to postpone the vote. He argues that irregularities in the first round worked against him and has demanded that arrangements for the run-off be improved.
Peul and Malinke spill across borders into Sierra Leone and Liberia, with Malinke also in northern Ivory Coast -- countries all recovering from recent civil wars.
Skirmishes already broke out between supporters of the two rival camps in Guinea's capital Conakry last weekend, killing one and injuring dozens.
* The delay will be seen as a victory for Conde, though few believe it will be enough to win him the contest.
Conde came in second in the initial round of voting June 27 with 18.25 percent. Diallo took 43.69 percent and has since won alliances he expects will give him a win.
"Any delay certainly looks to favour Conde and may make a second round closer than his first round tally would have suggested," said Christopher Melville, analyst at Menas.
* Mining companies will be disappointed but investment plans will likely hold unless the country dips into severe turmoil.
Companies like Vale, Rio Tinto, Chinalco and BSG Resources have together announced more than $5 billion in iron ore investments this year in a country already the world's No. 1 bauxite supplier.
Analysts say the sector has been eager for political stability in the resource-rich country.
"Delays to the election would be a concern," said Tom Wilson, analyst at Control Risks. "The mining industry is simply looking for a democratically elected government to be in place, and is less concerned with which candidate wins."
Both candidates have said they will take a second look at mining contracts, particularly those signed by the junta-led government. But experts believe neither would take an aggressive approach to renegotiations.


Date created : 2010-09-16


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