Presidential in Guinea: “We don’t want a fight”

It is a decisive voting day for Guinean voters. At midday, already, we can say from several sources that the enthusiasm is palpable in the polling stations. “They were there by the dozen, early Sunday morning, to slip their ballot into the ballot box to choose the next president of Guinea, their hearts divided between fears of post-election violence and the hope of a better future”, relate our colleagues from Agence France-Presse.

Illustration at the Federico-Mayor primary school in Kaloum, a district of Conakry where the Guinean decision-making centers are located, which is a kind of educational oasis on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, with a view of the trawlers, in the middle of ‘giant trees. Several polling stations were installed in the classrooms. On the wall, a large inscription: “The child is not a vase that you fill, but a fire that you light. “

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A test poll

Here, “even before the official time for the start of operations, set at 8 am (GMT and local time), there is a big stir among voters, observers, and the staff responsible for conducting operations. In the rooms, representatives of the candidates monitoring the vote. The weather is nice and a few drops of rain have even fallen, a blessing. The security forces are numerous but remain discreet, ”continues the agency’s correspondence.

The Guineans must in this first round decide between twelve candidates, including two women. The two favorites are outgoing president Alpha Condé, 82, and opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68. The campaign was punctuated by invective, incidents and obstructions, clashes which left several activists injured.

From the outcome of the ballot, which opens a busy electoral sequence in West Africa, Mohamed Fode Camara expects “peace”, as well as a favorable development “for youth employment and against poverty”, a- he told AFP. This civil administrator at the Ministry of Social Affairs, who believes that Alpha Condé “has already done a lot in ten years”, said “to fear the day of the proclamation of the results”. “God will save us Insh’Allah. We want peace, not a fight. “

“At the Federico-Mayor school, operations take place without apparent tension. You go in, give your name with your voter card and the agents look for him on endless lists. Then they give out the ballots, we withdraw behind the voting booth, we put the one of our choice in an envelope, then in the transparent ballot box. Then you dip your finger in a pot of indelible purple ink, so you don’t go and vote elsewhere.

This is what Mamadou Alpha Barry did, interviewed by AFP, clear T-shirt, ear flaps on his head, one of the very few to wear a mask. At 37, he says he graduated from medical school in 2013 and is still looking for a job. “It’s a very important, very special day. We expect a lot of changes, especially for youth employment, a change in living conditions, because life is hard for 95% of Guineans ”, explains Mamadou Alpha Barry. “I am very worried, we saw a lot of things during the campaign. Guineans are divided. I am waiting for a president who reconciles them and who shows that we are one and the same family, ”he adds.

“In the Kindia prefecture, voters are strongly mobilized to fulfill their civic duty, even if some polling stations do not have all the electoral material”, noted one of the correspondents of Guineematin.com in the city of citrus. In the same region, “some polling stations opened as early as 7 am. But others registered a slight delay in the Tafory and Sarakoleya districts. In the sub-prefecture of Damankania this is also the case, some polling stations opened late. There is also a lack of electoral materials (indelible ink, guide and torch) in some polling stations in Thierno Djibia and Condetta neighborhoods, in the urban municipality, ”report our colleagues.

Still on the conduct of the election itself, the Senegalese channel Télé Futurs Média wrote a report on the impossibility of voting for Guineans in the diaspora. Many are unable to speak for this long-awaited election. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni), only eleven embassies and consulates in Africa are authorized to hold the vote. But the Guineans of Senegal are not concerned, so it’s a bit of a disappointment.

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Facing Condé, eleven candidates, including Diallo

The main stake of this test ballot relates primarily to the choice of the future tenant of the palace of Sékhoutouréya. Even if twelve candidates are in the running, everything should be played between the outgoing Alpha Condé, 82, and his long-time opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68.

One bloody, the other civilized, they clashed in 2010, the first elections deemed democratic after decades of authoritarian regimes, then in 2015. Alpha Condé had won both times. The latter, only the fourth president 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 African (economic) power after Nigeria”.

He voted this Sunday at the deaf-mute school located in the Boulbinet district, a town of Kaloum.

Opposite, Cellou Dalein Diallo proposes to “turn the nightmarish page of ten years of lies”, lambasting police repression, corruption, youth unemployment and poverty. He says the outgoing person 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.

The number of presidential terms is limited to two. But for Alpha Condé, the Constitution 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 his rival Cellou Dalein Diallo decided to take part in the presidential election, arguing that in order to govern, you had to go through the ballot box. Just like Makalé Traoré, of the Party for Citizen Action through Work (Pact), which is seeking the supreme office for the first time. She presents herself as the “candidate of women”.

Read also Guinea: the thousand and one facets of Alpha Condé

Alternation or continuity

Carried out by big feverish meetings, the campaign was punctuated with 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 would recognize 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, 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.

“We will not throw stones, we will not break vehicles,” Prime Minister Kassory Fofana said on behalf of thousands of Alpha Condé supporters gathered on Friday for his last meeting. “Our activists will go and vote quietly,” Fodé Oussou Fofana, vice-president of Mr. Diallo’s party, told AFP. But there is no question of letting victory “steal” again, his camp repeats.

The party has invested a lot of money to bring up the votes itself, he says, so wary of bodies deemed to be subservient to power, despite sending African observers.

The Security Ministry warned on Friday that it was “forbidden” for anyone other than “recognized” institutions to publish a result. It should take at least a few days to publish a national result. A possible second round is scheduled for November 24.

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

Read also Guinea: tensions punctuate the end of the electoral campaign

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