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Violence erupts, as Guinea’s presidential candidate Conde: “I have won” re-run election

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Alpha_Conde-Guinea-presidential aspirant 2010

Guinea’s presidential candidate Conde: “I have won” re-run election

By Laurence Boutreux/AFP in Conakry.
Deadly violence flared in Guinea hours ahead of results of its first democratic presidential election since independence from France over 50 years ago, as both candidates claimed victory.
Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, 72, said he had “clearly” won the run-off, while former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo said results “purged” of fraud showed him to be the winner.
At least one person was killed and dozens injured as security forces clashed with Diallo’s supporters in the streets of Conakry, with soldiers firing on protesters who lobbed stones and other objects at them, police and witnesses said.
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Guinean presidential candidate Alpha Conde declared victory Monday in a tense race ahead of official results which rival Cellou Dalein Diallo is threatening to reject, alleging voting fraud.
Clashes broke out between Diallo’s supporters and security forces who blocked streets in the capital Conakry on Monday morning (November 15, 2010), responding with tear gas after having stones and other objects thrown at them.
While Diallo urged a further delay in the release of results on Sunday night for accusations of fraud to be probed, Conde called a press conference on Monday, declaring in front of journalists: “I know I have won.”
“I have won four out of five districts in Conakry, all of the Lower Guinea prefectures except for Boke, all of the Forest prefectures and Upper Guinea. How could I not win?” he added.
He said the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) “must publish the results on Monday and meet its deadlines.”
The November 7 election was hailed locally and abroad as peaceful, after a campaign marred by ethnic clashes between supporters of Diallo, who is Fulani and Conde, who is of the Malinke ethnic group.
While results should have been published last Wednesday, tension has been mounting amid a delay and the electoral body had promised to publish them by midday on Monday at the latest.
“The people voted overwhelmingly in peace with great maturity,” said Alpha Conde, and “the world congratulated them.”
Commission chairman Siaka Sangare on Sunday he had received Diallo’s complaints but added: “I sincerely believe that we have treated all claims with the maximum attention.”
Diallo, while calling “for calm and restraint” said he would not accept provisional results if they were announced Monday.
It was critical that the electoral commission fully examine what he described as “massive fraud at all levels”, he said.
Partial results published so far put Diallo and Conde neck and neck in the crucial vote which aims to end 52 years of dictatorship and military rule in the west African country.
The country has been presided over by a transitional government since a coup in December 2008 followed the death of President Lansana Conte who held power for 24 years.
Interim President Sekouba Konate led the country to its first ever democratic election, with a first round taking place on June 27 in which Diallo came first with 43 percent, and Conde garnering 18 percent of votes.
Despite Diallo being touted as the poll favourite, alliances and ethnic voting allowed Conde to gain ground.
Conde, a 72-year-old veteran opponent who has come up against all regimes since independence from France in 1958, presented himself during campaigning as the candidate for change.
Meanwhile Diallo, 58, who spent 11 years as minister and later prime minister in Conte’s government before leading a major opposition party, has used his political experience to appear the reassuring choice.
Schools in the capital Conakry have been closed for the past 10 days while national television has broadcast appeals to avoid election-related violence ahead of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha on Tuesday.
Despite enormous mineral wealth which has multinationals scrambling for their stake in massive bauxite and iron-ore stores, half Guinea’s population lives under the poverty line, most without running water or electricity.
USAfricaLIVE
#BreakingNews and special reports unit of USAfrica multimedia networks, USAfricaonline.com and USAfricaTV

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