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Electoral commission delays presidential run-off

Video by James ANDRE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-10-23

Guinea's electoral commission has once again delayed a presidential run-off that was due to be held on Oct. 24. The vote has been delayed repeatedly amid street violence and rows over leadership within the electoral body.

The run-off vote in Guinea’s presidential election, due on Sunday, has been postponed once again amid a “deplorable” lack of preparation that could lead to a disputed result, the head of the country’s electoral commission has said.

“I would not want to rush and send voters to the ballot boxes in such deplorable conditions that do not respect international standards,” Siaka Toumany Sangare, who has been at the head of the electoral commission for just two days, told reporters.

“It will mean that the results will be disputed afterwards.”

Sangare did not say when a new date would be announced.

According to FRANCE 24 correspondent James Andre in Guinea, Sangare’s problems were made even worse by 30 computers belonging to the electoral commission having been stolen. There is no indication yet, Andre said, as to who had stolen them or if there was a political motivation to the theft.

The vote has been delayed repeatedly amid street violence and rows over leadership
within the electoral body. It is seen as crucial to ending decades of authoritarian rule that has left Guinea, the world’s biggest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, suffering from chronic and widespread poverty.

The run-off, when it takes place, will see former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo vying against veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde.

Allegations of fraud

The first round at the end of June, although peaceful, was blighted by accusations of fraud. The accusations led to arguments over who should lead the electoral commission, which was only resolved on Tuesday with the naming of Sangare.

The delay has meant that much of the vital preparation for the election, such as the lists of those eligible to vote, have not been completed in time.

“The fact of the matter is that things are not ready,” says FRANCE 24’s James Andre. “The electoral ballots are not out and voter cards have not been distributed.

“People will be disappointed,” he adds. “There is a lot of interest in this election and people are anxious to vote.

“Both candidates say they are ready to go ahead, and yes, there have been tensions. But the tensions have been greatly calmed by the appointment, this week, of Sangare as the head of the electoral commission.”

France sticks its oar in

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who has played a major role in efforts to guide Guinea towards civilian rule, suggested a postponing of the vote by a week.

But the announcement by a minister of Guinea’s former colonial master was not well received by either the electoral commission or the ruling military junta of a country desperate to be seen to be managing its own affairs.

FRANCE 24’s James André said: “Bernard Kouchner’s announcement did not go down well. It was seen as a provocation and the fact that France made this announcement is seen as direct interference in the internal affairs of the country.”

Date created : 2010-10-22

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