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Guinea: Awaiting the Second Round of the Elections Amidst Fraud Allegations

A historical presidential election is underway in Guinea as the official results of the first round [fr] are about to be made official. The second round is scheduled for August 1st [fr] because examinations of fraud allegations has pushed back the original scheduled date of July 18th. Unofficial polls of the first round seem to indicate that Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé would have a good chance to move on to the second round.

Despite the punctual allegations of fraud, the overall sentiment is that of relief and satisfaction that the polls were done without any turmoil so far and a remarkable voters turnout [fr].  There was also an important increase in online media conversation related to the elections. Bloggers have addressed several topics from the fraud allegations that have surfaced, the peaceful proceedings and the concern that ethnicity might have driven most of the voters’ choice.

The authorities also revealed yesterday that theyhave uncovered a plot to destabilize the second round of voting (source: VOA News and BBC Afrique [fr] ).

Fraud was discussed at length within the Guinean blogosphere, even prior to the first round poll.   Guinee58 posts a sample of the  ballot that  was made available to the voters for the first round [fr]:

Guinean Ballot photo courtesy of http://Guinee50.com

Laura Hirahara at Impunity watch provides a context about the fraud allegations and the confirmed ones:

The first round of voting on July 27th, in which 77 percent of registered Guinea voters took part, occurred without violence.  However, since the results were announced by Guinea’s Supreme Court, many of the 24 candidates that did not make the run-off have made official complaints of voter fraud. The electoral commission charged with investigating voting irregularities has confirmed “many cases of fraud,” in addition to the claims being made.

Details of  frauds in a few cities in North Guinea were reported online.  In Faranah et de Siguiri, the following allegations were made [fr]:

A Faranah, le chef du quartier  a été surpris en train de voter au Bureau N° 346, avec 75 (Soixante quinze) cartes d’électeurs subtilisées. Ensuite, dans la Commune urbaine de Siguiri,  la commission administrative de centralisation des votes n’a pu dépouiller  que 2 Bureaux sur 71. Le reste des résultats sont arrivés dans la salle, sans enveloppes sécurisées.

In Faranah, the head of the community was found to have voted with 75 stolen electoral registrations in the bureau N 346. Then, in the urban borough of Siguiri,  the administrative commission of ballot collection could only count 2 out of 71 offices. The rest of the results arrived in the counting room without  sealed envelopes.

Conakry a Flickr photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/attawayjl/

Siaka Kouyaté at Actu Guinee reports that two arrests were made following charges of registration card fabrication [fr]:

Le commerçant dénommé Diallo Sadakadji et son fils, tous deux coupables d’édition et de distribution de près d’un million de fausses cartes d’électeurs, ont été arrêtés hier, mercredi, 30 juin 2010, à leur domicile à Kaporo, dans la Commune de Ratoma.

A merchant named Diallo Sadakadji and his son were arrested on June 30 2010 at their home in Kaporo on the borough of Ratoma under the charge of printing and distributing about one million false voter registration cards.

Les Electeurs Testeurs would like to go beyond the allegations of fraud and wonder what the second round means for the future of Guinea as they going forward [fr]:

Pour le reste, le repli identitaire ne marchera plus. Il faut des alliances. Et seule l’objectivité pourra guider désormais le choix des autres ethnies en majorité les jeunes à aller vers l’un des deux candidats en liste pour le second tour de la présidentielle.

For the rest now, it seems the voting according to ethnic identity will not work anymore. One will have to make alliances. Therefore, only objectivity can guide the choice of the other ethnicities, especially the young ones as they will select between one of the two candidates left for the second round of the presidential elections.

Les Electeurs Testeurs discuss further ethnocentrism as a factor in the electoral vote and argues that it was overblown in the media and that Guineans were able to look past ethnic considerations [fr]:

Contrairement à cette image véhiculée par les medias, celle d’une Guinée où la réconciliation serait utopique, nous avons vu une autre Guinée durant ces campagnes qui s’achèvent. Les populations de la Guinée profonde ont su réservé cette surprise à tous les candidats en se mettant au dessus des clivages ethniques. Mais malheureusement, un incident a troublé cette atmosphère paisible hier. C’est une première et encore une fois c’est l’intérêt national qui a prévalu. La Guinée est et reste une famille.

Contrary to the image portrayed in the media in which a reconciliation in Guinea was an utopia, we saw a different Guinea as these campaigns came to an end. Guineans surprised the candidates and put ethnic cleavage behind them. There was one unfortunate incident that troubled the peaceful scene yesterday. I was an isolate incident and the national interest prevailed. Guinea is and will always be one big family.

The non-violent atmosphere was a welcome sight everywhere given the incident of the years passed. Journalists agree this was an important step. Journalist Souleymane Diallo opines via the blog Guinea Oye:

the country’s first free vote since independence from France in 1958 was “a renaissance, an important step in the liberation of Guinea. Up until now there had never been a proper election in Guinea. This is the first time it was impossible to know the name of the future president the day before the vote”

Every Guineans hope that patience and reason will prevail as the results of the first round are posted. One electoral observer offers the following take on the election proceedings so far:

They’ve been patient, they’ve been enormously good natured and I think genuinely relieved because they have never had a vote in this country, which was not rigged by the government in power. So, that there is a sense that they really want change and they are in such a good mood

Global Voices Guinean author Abdoulaye Bah contributed with links to this article.

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