In Guinea, the start of a presidential election in a climate of tension

It’s a high-risk first round. Nearly 5.5 million Guineans are called upon to choose their next president, Sunday, October 18, the first meeting under tension in a busy West African electoral calendar. This election, open at 8 a.m. (local time), the first in a series of five presidential elections in West Africa before the end of 2020, takes place in a climate of tension that raises fears of unrest, especially around of the announcement of the results, in a country accustomed to political antagonisms spilling blood.

Twelve candidates are in the running to lead this country of 12.5 million inhabitants, among the poorest in the world despite its immense natural resources. The outcome should be played between outgoing Alpha Condé, 82, and his long-time opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68.

Read also: Alpha Condé saw himself in Mandela, will he end up in Mugabe?

One bloody, the other civilized, they clashed in 2010, the first elections deemed democratic after decades of authoritarian regimes, then in 2015. Mr. Condé had won both times.

Mr. Condé, the fourth president only known to independent Guinea (in addition to two interim presidents), claims to have put back a country he had found in ruins and to have advanced human rights. He promises to make it “The second power [économique] African after Nigeria ”.

Mr. Diallo proposes to “Turn the nightmarish page of ten years of lies”, criticizing police repression, corruption, youth unemployment and poverty. He says the outgoing unable to continue ruling because of his age.

The 2020 election is not immune to the tensions of previous ones. For months, the opposition mobilized against the prospect of a third term for Mr. Condé. The protest was harshly repressed. Dozens of civilians have been killed. Government and opposition reject the responsibility for these deaths.

Read also “Ten years after the election of Alpha Condé, it is time to mourn the promised Guinea”

“Tumultuous tomorrow”

The number of presidential terms is limited to two. But, for Mr. Condé, the Constitution which he had adopted in March to, he says, modernize the country resets his counter to zero. The opposition questioned the legitimacy of this Constitution. But Mr. Diallo decided to participate in the presidential election, arguing that to govern you had to go through the ballot box.

Carried out by big feverish meetings, the campaign was punctuated by invective, incidents and obstructions, and clashes which left several militants injured.

The importance of ethnicities adds to the volatility of the situation. There is widespread doubt that either of the main candidates will admit defeat without fighting to the end.

“Alpha Condé, who has come all this way, who has modified the Constitution, [serait allé] until then to lose the election ”, asks Kabinet Fofana, president of the Political Science Association. And “Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost two elections, who is no longer represented in the Assembly, would he come just to accompany Alpha Condé? “ This “May lead us to think that we will experience a rather tumultuous electoral aftermath”, he believes.

Read also Mobilized against the third term of Alpha Condé, the Guinean diaspora will not vote on Sunday

“We will not throw stones, we will not break vehicles”, said the Prime Minister, Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, on behalf of thousands of supporters of Mr. Condé gathered Friday for his last meeting.

“Like Obama”

“Our activists will go and vote quietly”, assures Fodé Oussou Fofana, vice-president of Mr. Diallo’s party, the Union of Democratic Forces (UFDG). But no question of leaving “Want” victory again, repeats his camp.

The party has invested a lot of money to bring up the votes itself, he said, so wary of bodies deemed to be subservient to power, despite sending African observers. The security ministry warned on Friday that it was ” prohibited “ to anyone other than institutions “Recognized” to publish a result.

“We will do exactly as the president [américain Barack] Obama. [Si] we have our own results, we can Tweet », says Mr. Fofana. It should take at least a few days to publish a national result.

A possible second round is scheduled for November 24. The recourse to electoral distortions or to constitutional modifications is among the setbacks of democracy observed by its defenders in recent years in West Africa, once considered to be pioneering.

Following Guinea, presidential elections are scheduled by the end of 2020 in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger. On October 31, the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, where outgoing Alassane Ouattara is also running for a third term, also promises to be at high risk.

Read also West Africa: Democratization in Danger

The World with AFP

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