Guineans have started voting for a high-risk presidential election

This is a high risk first round. Nearly 5.5 million Guineans are called upon to choose their next president on Sunday, October 18, the first meeting under pressure 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, is taking 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 people, among the poorest in the world despite its immense natural resources. The outcome should be played between outgoing Alpha Condé, 82, and his longtime 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, and then in 2015. Mr. Condé won both times.

Mr. Condé, only the fourth president in independent Guinea (in addition to two interim presidents), claims to have turned around a country he found in ruins and to have advanced human rights. He promises to do “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 poll is not immune to the tensions of previous ones. For months, the opposition mobilized against the prospect of Mr. Condé’s third term. 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 Condé, the Constitution he passed in March to, he says, modernize the country resets his counter to zero. The opposition has 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 large and feverish meetings, the campaign was punctuated by invectives, incidents and obstructions, and clashes that left several activists 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 this far, who changed the Constitution, did he [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 there will be quite a 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 ” steal “ victory again, repeats his camp.

The party has invested a lot of money in getting the votes back itself, he says, so wary of bodies deemed to be subservient to power, despite sending in 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 release a national result.

A possible second round is scheduled for November 24. The use of electoral distortions or constitutional changes is among the setbacks of democracy observed by its supporters 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 incumbent Alassane Ouattara is also running for a third term, also promises to be high risk.

Read also West Africa: Democratization in Danger

The World with AFP

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