Guinea election boycott threat is averted

Image caption, Street violence has led to delays in the run-off as tension has been high since first round in June

Special polling stations will be constructed in Guinea to allow people displaced by recent violence to vote in next Sunday's presidential run-off.

The head of the electoral commission said every displaced person would be able to vote, provided their name appeared on the electoral register.

The candidates had threatened boycotts if the issue was not addressed.

The vote, intended to end years of authoritarian rule, has been delayed three times since July.

Political infighting and deadly street violence have been blamed for the postponements.

Thousands of people fled their homes after last month's fighting between supporters of the two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde.

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in the capital, Conakry, said the impasse over how they would vote had threatened a fourth delay.

But spokesmen for both candidates said they were happy with the assurances from the new election chief.

"I can say without making a serious error that all has been done for the holding of credible elections on 7 November," election chief Toumany Sangare said.

General Sangare, a Mali national, was appointed several weeks ago by the military leader after months of infighting and accusations of fraud at the electoral commission.

Ethnic tensions

The military seized power in 2008 after the death of long-time strongman leader Lansana Conte, but army rule led to more political upheaval and the soldiers eventually agreed to transfer power back to civilians.

A former prime minister, Mr Diallo is seen as the favourite to win the run-off. He took 44% of the votes in the first round in June - and claims he was denied overall victory only by fraud.

Mr Conde, a veteran opposition leader, won 18% of the vote - although he claims he was cheated out of some 600,000 ballots.

Correspondents say the fierce tensions between the two candidates' supporters has its origins in rivalry between Guinea's two largest ethnic communities. Mr Diallo is a Peul, while Mr Conde is a Malinke.

Despite their economic dominance, a member of the Peul community has never been president. The Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta.

The first round was seen as Guinea's first democratic vote since independence in 1958, raising hopes of an end to military and authoritarian rule in the mineral-rich country.

Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite. It also has important deposits of iron ore, but it remains one of the poorest countries in West Africa.

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