10 May 2012

Guinea: Opposition Calls for Mass Protests Over Poll Delay

Photo: African Elections Project (AEP)
A woman casts her ballot. (File photo)

There have been mixed responses to a day of national protest called for by opposition parties in Guinea, who are demanding dialogue with the government on the holding of legislative elections.

Early morning reports from French news agency Aminata says that in some parts of the capital like the Ratoma area, banks and filing stations are closed, while in other areas like Dixinn and Kaloum, which are closer to the central town, business is carrying on as usual.

The government has called on citizens to remain calm, while the opposition has repeated its call for Guineans to come out in their numbers.

"We have decided to express our frustration through marches and other demonstrations until they have assurances that the voter registration process is transparent and secure," Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, told AFP.

Legislative elections were to be held under constitutional rules within six months of the inauguration of President Alpha Conde in December 2010, but have been repeatedly postponed since and opposition leaders say they suspect the government is trying to rig the elections in favour of the president's party.

There is currently no date set for the legislative elections which should have been held by May 2011. The elections are seen as the final step of what has been a tumultuous transition to democracy following the 2008 military coup and 50 years of authoritarian rule.

The previously delayed elections were again postponed in April, after being set down for July 8, as Conde said there were technical problems that had not been resolved.

Ministry of Defence spokesperson Commander Aliou Diakite reported that they called for the army to stay away from the demonstrations and asked unit commanders to make sure their men are kept under control.

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