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Guinea election results delayed after complaints

By Joe Penney, For CNN
  • The election commission needs time to consider allegations of voting fraud
  • There are concerns pre-election violence will be reignited
  • Guineans presidents have historically favored their own ethnic groups

Conakry, Guinea (CNN) -- Guinean voters have been told to wait a few more days for the first freely elected president in the country's 52-year history, amid mounting allegations of fraud from both parties.

Challenges have been leveled against results from a number of areas around the country.

The results from Sunday's runoff between former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde were due on Wednesday. But Gen. Siaka Toumani Sangare, who heads the West African republic's Independent National Electoral Commission, announced to reporters Wednesday night that results would not be released until Saturday or Sunday to give time to consider the complaints posed by both sides.

International analysts and Guineans alike are worried that the vote challenges will revive pre-election violence that killed at least three and forced the displacement of a minimum 2,800 ethnic Peul from a pair of eastern towns.

Early results show many Guineans voted along ethnic and regional lines, with the ethnic Peul, also known as Fulani, supporting the Peul candidate, Diallo, and the Malinke strongly in favor of their candidate, Alpha Conde.

Winning the election will provide unparalleled access to lucrative mining contracts for the ruling party, a big incentive to contest the poll.

In the past, Guineans presidents have favored their own ethnic groups, which is why many worry their community will be shut out of the resources if they lose.

"I am scared for the day they announce the results," said one hotel worker who asked not to be named for security reasons.

But others were more hopeful that Guinea's democratic transition from a military junta that took power in 2008 will end peacefully.

"I think this is a process the country is going through. The Guinean population from all the regions has witnessed war in the neighboring countries and has received displaced people, and I don't think they want to be in that position," Mamadou Camara, a computer engineer in Conakry, told CNN on Thursday.

Conde's RPG party has claimed fraud in the Fouta Djallon region, a Diallo stronghold, while Diallo's UFDG party has contested the results from the two eastern towns, Siguiri and Kouroussa, saying its supporters were targeted and intimidated while the opposition stuffed the ballot boxes.

The Red Cross said last Tuesday that 2,800 ethnic Peul supporters of Diallo were displaced on October 22 and 23 alone.

But many more commercial trucks and containers full of ethnic Peul people and all their belongings left Siguiri and Kouroussa in after that, officials said.

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.

Six new voting stations were set up for the displaced in major cities around the country, but Diallo's party officials told CNN that most of the displaced were spread out in remote villages far from the new stations.

Partial election figures announced Wednesday put Diallo ahead of Conde, holding nearly 60 percent of the 1.2 million ballots counted.

But those votes were from regions where Diallo is considered the favorite. An estimated 3 million ballots are yet to be announced and reports that Conde has made strong gains since the first round held in June -- when he took just over 18 percent -- have swept through the seaside capital, Conakry.

Although Diallo won nearly 44 percent of the first round poll, many consider the numbers to be inaccurate because the Supreme Court annulled over 600,000 ballots.

Conde's party officials say that their opponent is trying to cover his losses.

"You know, when you are falling you must say that this is the reason why you fell. ... When you fought so hard and you end up not getting what you want, of course you will find a reason," Moustapha Naite, a spokesman for Conde's RPG party, told CNN.

Guinea, rich in minerals, is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Its new president will have to deal with myriad infrastructure problems, like the widespread lack of electricity and running water.

One Conakry student's reaction to recent events was especially telling.

"I am not in the loop for these things, because [in our house] we haven't had electricity for two weeks," said Anya Diallo.