Guinea heads to a runoff

According to Radio France Internationale, Guinea will head to a July 18 runoff between the top two presidential candidates, after a relatively successful first-round election on June 27:

Turnout was 77 per cent, according to the Independent National Election Commission, with 3.3 million people voting.

Twenty out of 24 candidates failed to get over five per cent, with late-president Lansana Conté’s party, the Unity and Progress Party (PUP), failing badly.

Despite relief at the vote not being marred by violence, the majority of candidates have claimed there was widespread fraud.

As I blogged about previously, this election was a monumental point for Guinea’s post-independence history, as it marked their first democratic election ever, and international monitors had confirmed the transitional/caretaker government was staying out of the process, while the military pledged not to interfere either. The fraud allegations, although disappointing, are to be expected at some level. All things considered, the first-round ought to be taken as a success, in my opinion.

RFI has brief summaries of the two candidates…

Two candidates will face each other on 18 July in the second and final round of Guinea’s presidential election.

Cellou Dalein Diallo, 58, was prime minister several times under General Lansana Conté, who ruled for 24 years after coming to power in a military coup in 1984; he is a member of the Fulani ethnic group; his strongholds are middle-Guinea and the capital, Conakry.

Alpha Condé, 73, is a third-time candidate who has opposed all three heads of state since independence, spending two and a half years in jail under Conté and sentenced to death in absentia by first president Ahmed Sekou Touré in 1970; he is a member of the Malinké ethnic group; his stronghold is Upper Guinea.

If the next round is a success, that’s only the beginning of the hard work, as I wrote before. This is a promising moment for Guinea — and even for much of the developing world — but it is also a perilous time, as reality of democracy in the third world sets in:

Even if there is no widespread violence or military intervention in the first-round or the runoff in this election, there is still the possibility of future instability, whether by popular discontent with the slow grind of democracy or by some overzealous or power-hungry military officer.

I’m still hoping for much better than that. They have a rare opportunity here, and if they avoid squandering it, they will pave the way for other countries to transition from autocracy to democracy successfully.

This post originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.

Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and a local elected official.
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