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Guinea presidential candidates sign peace agreement

By Joe Penney, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The agreement is signed to ease worries of violence
  • A runoff election will be held Sunday
  • Violent clashes and voter intimidation have marred the run-up to the vote

Conakry, Guinea (CNN) -- Both candidates in Guinea's presidential runoff election signed an agreement Friday aimed at keeping the peace ahead of Sunday's vote.

"We, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde ... reiterate our commitment to hold a peaceful election," said Diallo, who took nearly 44 percent of the first round poll held in June.

"We express our strong compassion toward all the victims of recent incidents," Conde added. Conde won just over 18 percent in the first round.

The agreement was organized by the United Nations' International Group of Contact on Guinea and under the presence of the U.N.'s top envoy for West Africa, the special envoy of the Economic Community Of West African States, and the Chinese, American, French, British, Spanish, German and European Union ambassadors.

Analysts are worried that the losing candidate might not accept the result of Sunday's election, instead resorting to violence to have his message heard. Violent clashes and voter intimidation have marred the run-up to what would otherwise be Guinea's most credible democratic presidential election in its 52-year history.

The Red Cross said Tuesday that 2,800 ethnic Peul supporters of Diallo were displaced over a two-day period last month, and many more commercial trucks and containers full of ethnic Peul have left the eastern towns of Siguiri and Kouroussa since then.

Those displaced said that they were threatened with death by the towns' residents if they did not leave before the election.

Local officials for Diallo's party claim the total number of displaced is between 15,000 to 20,000.

Many more people say they have not received their new alphanumeric voting cards, a major concern for the head of the electoral commission, retired Malian Gen. Siaka Toumani Sangare.

"People estimate the number (of people without voting cards) to be 70,000. That's a lot, it's true, and I recognize it. But what is very important and what people don't say is that these voters are on both sides," Sangare said to reporters after the meeting Friday.

Guinea has been ruled by a military junta since the death of longtime autocrat Lansana Conte in December 2008.

Many investors are waiting for peaceful, democratic elections to put their money into the country.

 
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