The West African nation of Guinea has indefinitely postponed its presidential runoff elections scheduled to take place this Sunday. Guinea’s Supreme Court is considering complaints of voting irregularities from the first round of the country’s first democratic elections since gaining independence in 1958. Since then, the country has been ruled by successive military or civilian dictatorships.
Twenty-four parties participated in the first round of elections, and the runoff vote was down to two candidates: former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo (2004-2006), who received about 40 percent of the vote in the first round, and long-term opposition leader Alpha Conde already asked for a postponement once because of the Muslim festival Ramadan and the rainy season.
Election officials have stated that the postponement is due to “technical reasons related to the requirements of the candidates.”
“Even the president is disappointed. Everybody is disappointed maybe except Mr. Conde because he is looking for postponing the elections all the time,” Yousouff Sylla, a special adviser to presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo was reported as saying by Voice of America, in reaction to the postponement.
Opposition leader Conde, who garnered about 18 percent of the vote in the first round, is among those who alleged fraud in the first round. Accusations include "ballot-stuffing, false polling stations and ballot boxes that disappeared and later re-appeared" according to AFP.
Last weekend clashes broke out in the capital of Guinea between supporters of the rival political parties after a political rally. People threw stones at each other and attacked vehicles in a suburb of the capital of Conakry, where both parties have their headquarters. One person was killed and 50 were injured in the clash.
Apart from being political rivals, the two remaining candidates in the runoff come from the two largest ethnic groups in the country, the Malinke and Peul. The presidential runoff is heightening tensions between the two groups. The political campaign was suspended and demonstrations were banned as a precautionary measure against further violence.