Guinea election body seeks to ease run-off fraud fears

Voters show their electoral cards as they wait to vote in Conakry. Photo: 7 November 2010
Image caption Guinean voters are relieved that the election passed off peacefully

Guinea's electoral commission has said it will publish the results from Sunday's election run-off as soon as they come in, to assuage fears of rigging which could spark violence.

International observers have praised the peaceful nature of the presidential second round but warned the vote was just the start of the process.

The election is intended to end 52 years of strongman and military rule.

But campaigning was marred by clashes between rival supporters.

The candidates - former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde - come from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups.

Election observers said the turnout had been high but no figures have been published.

African Union observer mission head Edem Kodjo urged the election commission to publish the results polling station by polling station to ensure transparency.

"It must be underlined that the electoral process is far from finished with just the close of voting," he warned.

'$64,000 question'

Election commission head Siaka Toumany Sangare said the results would be published as soon as they came in.

But the National Independent Election Commission website has not yet published any second round results.

Bernard Kouchner, foreign minister of former colonial power France, called the vote a "historic achievement after 50 years of dictatorship".

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in the capital, Conakry, says people are relieved that there was no trouble on Sunday but fearful that this could change.

He says the $64,000 question is: Will the loser accept the result?

The two candidates came together on Friday to issue a joint statement calling for calm during and after voting.

But on Sunday Mr Diallo said the campaign had seen "racial hatred - a hatred and a violence founded on ethnicity", with members of his Peul community chased from their homes and his election agents too afraid to monitor the vote in one area.

Peul tailor Mamadou Bah told the AP news agency that he knew it was wrong to vote on ethnic lines.

"I'd like to think I'm voting for [Diallo] because of his ideas, but I'm mostly voting for him because the Malinke in my neighbourhood are constantly insulting us," he said. "And we feel attacked."

Members of Mr Conde's Malinke community have also complained of being attacked by Mr Diallo's supporters - even that they had been poisoned at a rally.

Guinea has been led since January by the interim government of Gen Sekouba Konate, who took over from the leaders of a 2008 coup.

The military seized power after the death of the autocratic President, Lansana Conte, who had ruled the mineral-rich state for 24 years.

Mr Diallo, a Peul, is seen as the favourite for the presidency after gaining 44% of the first round vote in June, compared to 18% for Mr Conde, a Malinke. The opposition leader later complained of fraud.

Despite being Guinea's largest ethnic group, a Peul has never been president. The Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta.

Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite. It also has important deposits of iron ore. But despite its mineral wealth, the country is one of the poorest in West Africa.

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