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Guinea: Opposition leader declares himself winner as violence ensues

By Marième Soumaré
Posted on Thursday, 22 October 2020 18:56

Guinea Elections
Supporters of Guinean opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo clash with police in Conakry, Guinea, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Sadak Souici)

Violence erupted across the Guinean capital and several regions of the country on Wednesday. The electoral commission says it could release the full results of elections by Friday "at the latest", while opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo has declared himself the winner.

The arm wrestling between Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé is intensifying. After proclaiming the victory of its candidate the day after the 18 October elections, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG, opposition) announced on Wednesday the publication of results compiled by its representatives.

Diallo beat the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) – the only body empowered to disseminate the results of the vote – by proclaiming victory in Monday’s first round, “despite serious anomalies” in the conduct of voting operations.

CENI, for its part, began to publish partial results Tuesday evening. According to figures it has published so far, outgoing president, Alpha Condé, comes first in the four prefectures whose figures have already been compiled, namely Matoto (49.13%), Matam (51.39%), Kaloum (51.87%) and Boffa (56.69%).

Figures rejected by the party of Diallo, which instead depends on those compiled by its own representatives, deployed in all 15,000 polling stations. “And why not, it is a tradition in Guinea! Alpha Condé had done the same thing in 2010,” Ousmane Gaoual, he director of communication of the UFDG, told The Africa Report/Jeune Afrique.

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“Our delegates have taken photos or manually entered the results of reports and sent them back,” he said at a press conference. It is based on these figures that we are announcing our victory, which is not disputed.”

“The only administrative region that has systematically refused to give us the result reports is Kankan [stronghold of the Rally of the People of Guinea, the party of Alpha Condé],” he said, adding that this was not likely to jeopardise the victory of Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Full results expected Friday

It’s a unilateral declaration that is being judged “null and void” by INEC. “Their results are based on figures sent by SMS,” says the Vice-President of the institution, Bakary Mansaré. “We cannot certify them.” He refers to how the work of centralising the results is carried out by the national commission of vote counting, which includes the commissioners of INEC and a representative of each candidate in the presidential election.

According to him, the electoral commission should publish results as of Wednesday evening for “at least” ten other prefectures, out of the 38 in the country. “The process is fast,” said Bakary Mansaré, adding that the full results should be published “no later than Friday.

“The CENI must publish the report of the results it announces,” insists Gaoual, in order to reassure Guineans and the international community.

Deployed in 147 polling stations throughout the country, the electoral observation mission of the African Union (AU) said on Tuesday that “despite some malfunctions, the closing and counting of the vote took place in a satisfactory manner.

However, the 25 AU observers noted the “unequal representation of candidates” at the polling stations and stressed that some members of the polling stations had not “scrupulously respected the counting procedures as provided by law.” However, the mission found that overall voting was conducted in a “transparent, calm, and peaceful manner.

Violence

However, the announcement of partial results by the CENI was followed by a tense atmosphere in Conakry and in several cities across the country, where clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement officials erupted. The UFDG estimates that 16 people were killed in Conakry on Wednesday, including two members of the security forces.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) referred to a “chaotic situation. It denounced the “gunshot” death of its coordinator in the capital and announced “decisive actions” to come.

According to the Minister of Security, Albert Damantang Camara, barricades were erected in several neighbourhoods of Conakry during the day. Shots were heard in several neighbourhoods of the city.

READ MORE Guinea: Alpha Condé officially running for a third presidential term

Clashes also erupted in the prefectures of Kissidougou and Coyah “between militants of the UFDG and those of other political parties, including the RPG Arc-en-ciel,” the minister said in a statement. He also referred to “targeted attacks inside the country, in the upper suburbs of Conakry and against the seats of the presidential parties and the homes of the activists of these parties. »

According to the government, the death toll is ten dead throughout the country, which evokes a “strategy of chaos orchestrated to call into question the elections” and calls for “calm and restraint”.

For his part, Diallo stated that he was “sequestered” in his home because of the massive presence of police forces in front of his house. This deployment was confirmed by Albert Damantang Caamara, who spoke of “security reasons”. The opposition candidate also accused the police of “destroying everything” in his offices, located in the Hamdallaye district.

Discreet since the October 18 elections, Alpha Condé expressed himself on the situation in an appeal to the nation. “I reiterate my appeal to all to calm and serenity, pending the outcome of the electoral process underway in our country. Of course there will be a winner, but that does not mean that democracy will be threatened or that social peace becomes impossible.”

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