Contested Condé

Guinea: Condé’s victory met with a mix of satisfaction and protest

By Diawo Barry, in Conakry

Posted on October 26, 2020 16:18

Guinean President Alpha Conde casts his ballot in Conakry, Guinea, Sunday Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Sadak Souici)

After Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) declared Alpha Condé the winner, his opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo announced his plans to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court and called on his supporters to mobilise.

On Saturday, 24 October, an assortment of hand-picked guests, including members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of institutions, the government and the president’s coterie, took their seats in the convention hall of the People’s Palace, located at the tip of Kaloum Peninsula, in Conakry.

“The candidate Alpha Condé has been elected president of the republic in the first round of voting,” said Kabinet Cissé, head of the CENI. Condé’s coterie relished in their victory at the convention hall while activists and supporters joyously celebrated along Donka Road.

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“We must thank the Guinean people, who have maintained the country’s democratic foundations by casting their ballots,” said Domani Doré, spokesperson for the ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG Arc-En-Ciel) party. “It comes as no surprise to us that the people have once again placed their trust in Professor Condé. We regret Cellou Dalein Diallo’s attitude and are working to ensure that nothing gets in the way of our burgeoning democracy.”

‘We will file a complaint with the Constitutional Court’

In Conakry’s suburbs, a stronghold of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party, the atmosphere was strikingly different. Tensions were at a peak for several hours and no traffic could be spotted along Le Prince Road. Residents stayed at home while security forces patrolled the streets.

“We can’t recognise these election results. We have documents from the polling stations that tell a different story. We’re going to prepare our complaint in accordance with Guinean law and file it with the Constitutional Court,” said Aliou Condé, the UFDG’s secretary general. “We hope that justice will be served and that the court will deliver a nice surprise. We will continue to fight!”

According to the CENI, overall turnout was 78.88%. In some cities in Upper Guinea dominated by the ruling party, turnout was close to 100%. Aliou denounced the “inflated percentages”. Diallo’s right-hand man added: “Is it possible that every voter registered at a polling station cast a ballot? We have actual records from these areas showing that turnout didn’t exceed 50%. The other numbers were made up.”

‘It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the RPG had favourable scores’

In Doré’s view: “Some party always has to find fault with the results. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the RPG had favourable scores in Upper Guinea and Forested Guinea. President Condé has maintained very close ties with voters in these regions.”

“There were discrepancies, so it’s the responsibility of the concerned parties to take them up with the Constitutional Court,” said Dansa Kourouma, chairman of the National Council of Civil Society Organisations, which deployed 6,000 election monitors across the country.

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Though he believes the national turnout numbers add up, he has doubts about some of the local turnout statistics: “One-hundred percent voter turnout is impossible in Guinea. The Constitutional Court is going to have plenty of work to do to get to the bottom of this, as it will be necessary to comb through records to verify that the numbers are in line with reality.” But he also thinks the focus should be on encouraging restraint, prioritising legal remedies and renouncing all forms of violence.

Will his voice be heard? “The UFDG and its allies from the National Alliance for Democratic Change categorically reject the falsified results and call on the population to mobilise to defend, by all legal means, the verdict of the ballot box declaring a 53.84% victory for Diallo,” read a party statement released this past Saturday. “The UFDG and its allies will not refrain from demonstrating in the streets and in other public places to protest this electoral hold-up.”

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