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Guinea delays presidential election run-off vote again

By Joe Penney, For CNN
  • Guinea delays presidential run-off for fourth time
  • No new date has been set
  • The head of Guinea's electoral commission was replaced this week
  • Deadly clashes occurred this week between supporters of rival candidates

Conakry, Guinea (CNN) -- Guinea once again has postponed the second round of voting in its presidential election, the new head of the West African country's National Independent Electoral Commission announced Friday.

Gen. Siaka Toumani Toure, the Malian general who replaced controversial commission chief Louseny Camara on Tuesday, said it "is not possible" to hold the run-off vote between the two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, on Sunday as planned.

No new date was set for the next round of voting.

The ballot was initially scheduled to be held two weeks after the first round voting, which occurred June 27. Diallo won 44 percent and Conde 18 percent.

The second round already had been postponed three times because of technical problems, mismanagement and internal disputes.

Camara had been accused by Diallo's UFDG party of supporting Conde and stealing ballots from a populous Conakry suburb where Camara served as poll administrator.

Camara has denied the accusations, but on Thursday he was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 2,000,000 Guinean francs (about $300) by Conakry courts for fraud in the first round.

"We have no comment yet about the new delay," said Moustapha Naite, a spokesman for Alpha Conde's RPG party.

And Oury Bah, the vice president of UFDG, said, "We agree with the new delay because there are many problems to fix."

Experts are worried that the delay might spark renewed violence, which could threaten the democratic transition. Both sides have blamed the other for attacking its activists.

Bah said that renewed violence between supporters of Conde and Diallo after a UFDG rally on Thursday in Conakry killed one UFDG supporter and injured some 30 more.

"Yesterday our supporters were attacked by elements of RPG. ... One is now in a coma and another died this morning," Bah said.

Naite denied this claim and said RPG supporters were the victims of poisoned water sold at a rally for Conde in Conakry on Friday.

"Today all we can say is that at our meeting we have over 60 people laying in the hospital because of poisoned water that they sold at the Palais du Peuple," Naite said, referring to Friday's gathering place for RPG supporters.

Two people were killed Tuesday in clashes between police and supporters of UFDG, who were demanding the replacement of Camara as the electoral commission head.

Bah saw Tuesday's violence as evidence that parts of the government are biased against UFDG.

"The security forces are not neutral," he said. Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore "and his minister of security do not want elections."

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