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Guinea presidential runoff may be delayed again

From Joe Penny
A man sells T-shirts under a giant poster of Guinea's presidential frontrunner Cellou Dalein Diallo on September 18, 2010.
A man sells T-shirts under a giant poster of Guinea's presidential frontrunner Cellou Dalein Diallo on September 18, 2010.
  • The African country is choosing between two runoff candidates
  • Technical issues, soccer game may mean delay
  • Analysts worry about more election violence, a military takeover

Conakry, Guinea (CNN) -- Miscommunication, technical issues and a big soccer game mean the proposed date for Guinea's runoff presidential election is no longer viable, the electoral commission said.

"The October 10th date is no longer feasible," Thierno Seydou Bayo, spokesperson for Guinea's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) said regarding a second-round presidential poll between two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, which was originally scheduled for September 19 but delayed because of election violence.

Bayo indicated the runoff in the West African nation may occur later this month.

The news Friday came more than one week after CENI submitted the October 10 date to the president's secretary for verification, according to Bayo.

Military junta leader Gen. Sekouba Konate, who serves as president, said Wednesday on state TV that he never received the date proposal.

Konate said he was creating a committee to ensure the election process would take place in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, Diallo's party has accused CENI chief Louseny Camara of being an Alpha Conde activist and threatened to boycott elections if he remained head of the commission. Camara has denied the allegations.

In a public communique on state TV Wednesday, the National Transitional Council, a governmental consulting body, recommended Camara's immediate dismissal.

The electoral commission crisis and miscommunication with the president is compounded by technical difficulties holding the election back, such as the posting of voter lists outside polling stations and the shipment of new alphanumeric voting cards.

"The cards were printed in South Africa. We received most of them but not all, so we made another order," Bayo said.

Analysts are worried that a drawn-out election process could bring violence or an army takeover.

One person was killed and some 50 injured in street clashes in the nation's capital between supporters of Diallo and Conde in September.

Konate told the French public radio station RFI in an interview this week that "if the two candidates cannot get along, I will make my rounds and if necessary I will install a civilian as head of state by force."

"The risk of the army taking over if things go wrong is real," Said Djinnit, the U.N.'s top officer for West Africa, told Reuters recently.

In addition, Bayo noted that the even if all the voting materials were ready, the national soccer team is scheduled to play Nigeria at home on October 10. An election on that date would curtail turnout, he said.

Diallo won nearly 44 percent of the first ballot in June, far outpacing Conde, who finished second, according to official returns.