Carter Center Election Observation Mission to Guinea's presidential elections
June 29, 2010
Conakry The June 27, 2010, elections, represented an important political opening for the people of Guinea. These were the first elections to be held in Guinea without an incumbent candidate, which increased political space and the opportunity for participation by all sectors of society.
Despite procedural flaws and logistical challenges, this election, marked by high voter turnout and wide participation, was an important step forward in Guinea's process of democratization. Although it lacks experience and faces challenges of poor infrastructure, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) exhibited good faith efforts in their attempts to ensure a credible, transparent, and peaceful process.
As the counting process and proclamation of results continues, The Carter Center urges all candidates to adhere to their commitment to a peaceful transition of power, utilizing appropriate legal challenges for the filing of complaints as necessary. The CENI and relevant judicial bodies should recommit themselves to ensuring transparency throughout the process of proclamation and dispute resolution, ensuring all challenges are addressed in a timely and effective manner. In addition, it is critical that security forces, civil society, religious communities, the media, and the international community reaffirm and continue their support and commitment to Guinea's democratic development.
The next month will be critical in affirming Guinea's commitment to democratic governance. Should there be a second round of elections, The Carter Center urges the final contestants to remain committed to a peaceful and inclusive process, including through debate of their differences in an open forum accessible to all Guineans.
The main interim findings of the Center's observation mission are as follows:
The election campaigns were based on messages of national unity, with parties adhering to a code of conduct, and party supporters engaged in largely peaceful campaign events.
The Carter Center commends the transitional administration of Guinea for adhering to the January 2010 Ouagadougou agreement, including the agreed upon schedule for presidential elections and the tenet of abstaining from running as presidential candidates.
The elections were the first to be organized by an independent election commission, the CENI. The Carter Center recognizes the challenges faced by this agency, including a compressed electoral calendar, a legal vacuum, and a poorly developed national infrastructure.
Confusion about several important aspects of voting and counting procedures, delay in allocation of polling stations, and late delivery of essential voting materials negatively affected the quality of polling. The Carter Center is concerned that an uneven delivery of service to voters in different parts of the country and confusion over proper election day procedures has the potential to undermine the principles of universal and equal suffrage. In future elections, the establishment of a clear legal and procedural framework, well in advance of election day, may allow for better preparation and training.
The CENI introduced several complex technological innovations such as biometric voter cards and a system of tamper-proof envelopes for transferring poll results, that were well-conceived but required more attention and planning in their application.
The Carter Center will continue to observe the completion of the tabulation and official results process as well as any electoral disputes that may arise.
The Carter Center election observation mission has been in Guinea since May 12, 2010, following an invitation from CENI. The Carter Center mission was led by General Yakubu Gowon, former head of state of Nigeria and Dr. John Stremlau, Carter Center vice president for peace programs. Eight long-term observers from five countries were deployed throughout the country in advance of election day to assess election preparations. On election day, 30 observers from 15 countries visited 138 polling stations throughout Guinea to observe voting and counting. Carter Center observers continue to assess the conclusion of counting and vote tabulation and will remain in Guinea to observe the post-election environment. The Carter Center conducted this assessment on the basis of Guinea's domestic law and international commitments for democratic elections. The mission was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.