With the Supreme Court confirming the election of Alpha Conde, Guinea emerges from a violent two-week state of emergency surrounding the country’s first free vote since independence.
AFP - Guinea’s Alpha Conde has been elected president, the Supreme Court said Friday, confirming results in the country's first free vote since independence, which was marred by bloody ethnic clashes.
After an anxious two week wait under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of violence after provisional results named Conde,72, the winner, the Supreme Court validated his victory with 52.52 percent.
"The candidate of the RPG (Rally of the Guinean People), Alpha Conde... is elected president of the Republic," magistrate Mamadou Sylla, who presides over the court's constitutional chamber, told scores of journalists.
Rival candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, whose supporters took to the streets two weeks ago as he claimed the vote was tainted by fraud, won 47.48 percent of votes.
In the early hours of Friday morning, all appeared calm in Conakry after the Supreme Court announcement. Several hundred Conde supporters celebrated outside his house, but the country's new president did not wish to speak to the press.
The Supreme Court rejected "unfounded" requests from Diallo to have results from two regions in Upper Guinea, Siguiri and Kouroussa, cancelled.
He claimed the Malinke ethnic group aligned with his rival of the same clan, carried out a violent campaign of "ethnic hatred" against members of his Fulani ethnicity in the area in October.
Violence after the November 15 release of provisional results left at least seven people dead and hundreds injured as security forces cracked down on protests, to international condemnation of unnecessary brutality.
In Ratoma, a suburb of Conakry, young Fulani erected barricades, lobbed stones at security forces and attacked those suspected of supporting Conde.
International watchdogs slammed "systematic attacks by security forces" against Diallo's Fulani supporters, and the use of excessive force.
Human Rights Watch also said security forces dominated by ethnic groups supportive of Conde used "excessive force... targeting members of the Fulani ethnic group."
On Wednesday night the army announced 26 soldiers had been discharged "for unauthorised shooting, criminal conspiracy, looting, robbery, armed robbery and selling weapons of war before and during the state emergency."
On Thursday afternoon both candidates launched separate appeals for calm in interviews on public radio.
"I ask that all behaviour and comments that could jeopardise national peace and social cohesion be avoided," said Conde.
He promised, if elected, to be "the president of all Guineans, a president of coming together and of national reconciliation."
Diallo meanwhile urged his supporters "to remain calm and stay in their homes and not to express their joy or frustration on the streets, whatever the result."
"We do not want there to be violence in this country," he said.
In his third shot at the country's top job, Conde has won what has been hailed as the country's first free and democratic election since independence from France in 1958, after a string of despotic and military regimes.
Guinea, which remains desperately poor despite mineral riches which include massive bauxite reserves, has been in political crisis since a December 2008 coup which followed the death of longtime military ruler Lansana Conte.
In September 2009, security forces massacred over 150 people at a protest rally against the military junta's attempts to cling to power during which women were publicly raped.
A transitional government has been in power since January.
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