Guinea electoral commission head jailed for fraud in 2010 voting.
Special to USAfricaonline.com
CONAKRY (AFP) – A court in Guinea has sentenced the head of the electoral commission, Ben Sekou Sylla, to a year in prison for fraud in the first round of the presidential election in June, a prosecutor said Friday.
The decision comes nine days before the run-off poll for president between former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, who won 43.69 percent of the first round vote and veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde, who took 18.25 percent.
Sylla and the head of planning of the National Independent Election Commission (CENI) were sentenced to “one year in prison and a fine of two million Guinea francs (275 euros / 350 dollars) each for electoral fraud,” said prosecutor Boubacar Bah.
Sylla and the planning chief, Boubacar Diallo, had been accused by Conde’s RPG (Rally for the Guinean People) party of manipulating the voting records of the first round on June 27.
Both men were tried in their absence and plan to appeal, according to legal sources.
Sylla’s aides told AFP that he is sick and in Paris.
On August 6, the CENI announced that Sylla was in France undergoing medical tests and examinations and had been replaced by an interim president, Aminata Mame Camara.
More than three million Guineans, 77 percent of registered voters, took part in June in the west African nation’s first democratic poll since independence from France in 1958. The country has known decades of autocratic or military rule.
The second round of the poll is scheduled for September 19 in the impoverished state which is currently led by a military junta headed by General Sekouba Konate.
But most of the political parties claimed voting irregularities and fraud in the first round and the supreme court threw out the votes of two districts of the capital Conakry and three cities.
A lawyer for the defendants, Boubacar Barry, accused the RPG of trying to stop “the second round from taking place on the date set by organising an implosion of the CENI,” he said.
An aide to Conde, RPG administrative secretary Mohamed Diane, said that the two men had been convicted of “something extremely serious, they are thus disqualified from being members of the CENI.”
“The leadership of the CENI must be changed,” Diane told AFP in Dakar by telephone, but he added that Guinea was on Friday feasting to mark the end of Ramadan and said the RPG leadership would not meet until Monday.
The RPG contests the choice of Camara as interim head of the CENI, claiming that she is too close to Diallo’s party, and has demanded the nomination of “a neutral personality.”