Guineans breathed a sigh of relief Monday after the country's long-awaited presidential run-off election took place peacefully despite a campaign marred by ethnic clashes between supporters of rival candidates.
REUTERS - Guinean election officials counted ballots on Monday after the West African country held a peaceful presidential run-off election aimed at returning it to civilian rule.
Sunday’s election was Guinea’s first free vote since independence from France in 1958 and, if it passes smoothly, could improve stability in a fragile neighbourhood known as Africa’s “coup belt” while bolstering resource investment in a country rich in iron ore and bauxite.
But the run-up to the second-round election was marked by clashes between rival political and ethnic camps and rows over electoral preparations that caused months of delays since the first round was held on June 27.
The president of the electoral commission said provisional results of the poll, pitting former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo against veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, would be released as they become available.
None had been published by early Monday.
While analysts have warned there is a chance of more ethnic violence if the results are challenged, the mood in the capital Conakry early Monday was cautiously optimistic.
“I think that people now realise war is not good for Guinea,” said Bongourra Ousmane, a courier in Conakry’s waterfront neighbourhood of Sandervalia.
“I have my child here, my parents, my grandfather, and we want peace. We only hope we get a good president who can help this country get better,” he said.
Election observers said that Sunday’s poll appeared to have had a high turnout and that there were, so far, only minor reports of logistical problems interfering with voting.
The election is meant to end junta rule prevailing since a December 2008 military coup, and comes close on the heels of neighbouring Ivory Coast’s Oct. 31 first round of presidential elections.
Diallo, of the Peul ethnicity, took 43.69 percent in June’s first round, making him the favourite in the second round. Conde, of the Malinke, took just 18.25 percent and later complained of fraud undermining his score.
Guinea is the world’s top supplier of aluminium ore bauxite and its resources have attracted billions of dollars of planned investment from companies like Vale and Rio Tinto.
Date created : 2010-11-07