Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Guinea: Opposition confirms participation in presidential election

CONAKRY (AFP) - Guinea s opposition candidates said Tuesday they would participate in the first round of the October 11 presidential election, while cautioning that "dysfunctional" aspects of the voting process must be addressed.

The country s main opposition had called Thursday for the vote to be postponed until later in October to allow the election commission time to correct "anomalies" in the electoral roll.

Clashes between supporters of Guinea s ruling party and opposition activists left at least one dead and more than 80 wounded last week, as tension mounted ahead of the presidential election.

But with five days to go, Aliou Conde, a representative of opposition presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, told a press conference: "We are not going to boycott the election with all the commitments we have made. What we hope for are free and transparent elections, and above all credible so that the results will be accepted by everyone."

Conde added he was speaking on behalf of all seven opposition candidates competing against President Alpha Conde, who is hoping to win a second term in power following his 2010 election.

Six of the seven candidates were present at the press conference.

The spokesman then hit out at a "seriously dysfunctional" election system, containing what he called "a large number of anomalies that could influence the fairness of the vote".

Beyond irregularities in the electoral roll, opposition figures have criticised the geographical layout of voting booths, "anarchic" distribution of voting cards, the registration of voters far from their place of residence, and the authorisation of proxy voting despite their call to ban it.

The ruling party and opposition last month sealed a deal on the organisation of the vote, raising hopes it would pass off peacefully, but opposition parties say Conde has reneged on that agreement.

Last month a European Union observation mission deployed the first group drawn from 70 observers who will oversee the nationwide elections.

Guinea sits on vast mineral wealth but decades of misrule and corruption followed independence from France in 1958, and the country has been ruled by a series of strongmen.

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