Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –
Two finalists in Guinea’s first national election have both declared victory, complicating the West African country’s first democratic exercise, after 52 years of authoritarian rule.
Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde was officially declared the winner in a surprise upset as he had received only 18% in an earlier poll. Candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was comfortably ahead in the first round of voting, received several thousand votes less than Conde in the final vote. His supporters immediately cried foul and clashed with riot police.
After the results were declared on Nov. 15, Conde, 72, reached out to Diallo, saying "The time has come to join hands.” Diallo, 58, a former prime minister, said he is planning an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The contestants hail from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinke. Diallo’s Peul community has never held the presidency while the Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta.
A former French colony, Guinea is mineral-rich with as much as half of the world’s reserves of bauxite, and significant deposits of gold and diamonds. Still, it is ranked near the bottom of 182 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index.
Meanwhile, a New York-based group that monitored Guinea's historic election via text messages from voters is now monitoring outbreaks of violence between the nation's opposing parties.
Jennifer Swift-Morgan of Alliance Guinea said rioting in the capital city of Conakry prevented verification of the SMS allegations. The main goal now, she said, "is to make sure the world knows this crisis has broken out."
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