When Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe's vice-president and health minister, suspended by-elections in October 2020 citing Statutory Instrument ... (SI) 225A as a means to curb Covid-19, many believed a new date would be set. Instead, the government has remained silent on the matter, with many wondering if this is truly a measure to control the pandemic, or a strategy by the ruling Zanu PF to stop the MDC Alliance from winning back seats it lost after the recall by its breakaway party, the MDC-T.
After several days of waiting, Alpha Condé’s victory in the first round of the 18 October presidential election was confirmed on Saturday, 7 November around 12:30 GMT by the Constitutional Court. Based on the final numbers, he won 59.50% of the vote, compared with 33.49% for his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo.
The pleas filed by Diallo and three other opponents with the Court on Sunday, 1 November didn’t end up reversing the trend observed on 24 October by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the body responsible for publishing preliminary election results. The commission announced that Condé had won, with 59.49% of the vote, while his rival received 33.5%.
The Constitutional Court assessed the turnout to be 79.51% in the country, a slightly higher percentage than that revealed by the CENI, i.e., 78.88%. This is the first time the Court, created in 2010, has issued a decision in an electoral dispute in Guinea.
The UFDG party has exhausted all legal avenues
Diallo, a candidate representing the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party, has exhausted all possible legal avenues following the Court’s decision. The day after the election, the former prime minister under Lansana Conté declared himself the winner of the election, asserting that he received 53.8% of the votes cast before the CENI had even published the preliminary results. The percentage came from a count carried out by his team based on election returns.
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Scenes of jubilation as his supporters celebrated the victory were witnessed afterwards in several Conakry neighbourhoods and in other cities around the country. Shortly thereafter, clashes broke out between demonstrators and law enforcement. Post-election violence, coming on the back of a particularly tense electoral campaign, has since claimed several dozen lives in Guinea.
At the ballot box and in the street
Some opposition members made the decision to boycott the presidential election, deeming Condé’s bid for a third term “illegal” and expressing their distrust of the CENI. Diallo, who initially went along with the boycott, ultimately decided to break with the strategy used by his party during the legislative elections last March, after which the UFDG lost all of its parliamentary seats, stating that he wanted to challenge Condé’s bid for a third term both at the ballot box and in the street.
The day after he declared himself the winner, his home was surrounded by law enforcement and police officers cordoned off the party’s headquarters. However, the entire security operation was scaled back on 28 October.
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