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Guinea’s Conde on course for first-round win in disputed vote

16 October 2015, 09:35

Conakry - Guinean leader Alpha Conde was on track to win re-election in the first round of the country's contested presidential election, partial results showed Thursday, as his main rival said he was pulling out of the poll "farce".

The opposition has said that Sunday's vote, only the second democratic presidential poll since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958, was marred by widespread fraud and mismanagement, and demanded a re-run.

Preliminary results from the vast majority of the ballots cast showed Conde ahead of main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo with the six other candidates trailing behind, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said.

Announcing the results from 21 of the country's 33 prefectures, the commission said Conde had garnered some 1.95 million votes, compared to around 880 000 for Diallo.

Conde would need around 2.25 million votes to win an absolute majority and make good on his campaign pledge to deliver a "KO blow" to the opposition by sealing a first-round victory.

Final tally

The final tally incorporating results from the last remaining polling stations, including areas in the capital seen as opposition strongholds, was expected to be announced late Friday.

Turnout in the election was high, with almost 75% of the country's six million voters casting their ballot, according to the electoral commission.

Diallo pulled out of the election on Wednesday, with his spokesperson Aboubacar Sylla saying the former prime minister would "put an end to his participation in the current electoral process", dismissing it as "an election farce".

His party would "use all legal means, including peaceful demonstrations... to protest against the denial of democracy and justice for which the current authorities are to blame", Sylla said.

It was not immediately clear what Diallo's withdrawal would mean if the election goes to a second round run-off.

Diallo himself had earlier dubbed the vote "a masquerade, a massive fraud throughout the day".

The election has raised tensions in the west African country, with around a dozen people killed in clashes between the two main rival camps ahead of the October 11 vote.

The country's first free presidential vote in 2010, won by Conde, 77, in a run-off against Diallo, 63, was also tainted by accusations of fraud and violence, as were legislative polls three years later.

EU critical

The head of the European Union observer mission team Frank Engel said his team would remain in Guinea "until the definitive conclusion of the electoral process, including possible challenges."

The EU team criticised the electoral commission for poor organisation and "lack of preparation".

Fearing more turmoil in the country, International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said she was following the situation "closely" and warned that anyone encouraging crimes could face prosecution.

"Anyone who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any other way to the commission of atrocity crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution either in Guinea or at the Court in The Hague," she said in a statement.

Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Lounceny Fall meanwhile told diplomats that the government was "concerned about demonstrations and statements that we believe could threaten social peace."

Conde spent nearly three decades in exile in France, where he led opposition to Guinea's dictatorial first president Ahmed Sekou Toure.

The founder of the Rally of Guinean People (RPG) spent several months in jail under the regime of Sekou Toure's military successor Lansana Conte.



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