Supporters of (initial) frontrunner presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo reacted with violence this week after the 11/7 election was preliminarily certified in favor of “underdog” candidate and opposition leader Alpha Conde, in the first elections since decolonization. Diallo had finished significantly ahead of Conde in the summer’s first round election but the delays and postponements of the second round apparently allowed Conde to catch up.
After a tense run up to the poll and a long wait for the results, Conde was declared winner with 52.5 percent of the vote, confirming he had succeeded in overhauling Diallo’s first round lead and cancelling out an alliance Diallo secured with the third-placed candidate.
The poll is hoped to provide legal certainty for billions of dollars of recent investment by mining firms in Guinea’s bauxite and iron ore riches.
The two candidates each represent one of the two largest ethnic groups, adding a nasty ethnic edge to the contest and associated clashes. The Supreme Court has not yet certified the results officially, but will do so some time before early next week.
Meanwhile, responding to the surge in violence, the military transitional government has declared a state of emergency. Reuters:
The measure includes an overnight curfew beginning from 6 p.m. (1800 GMT) and gives the police extra powers to tackle the situation, a senior police officer told Reuters.
The poll was the former French colony’s first free vote since independence in 1958 and is due to end almost two years of military rule since the death of strongman Lansana Conte.
Despite his calls for calm as he challenges the result in court, some of Diallo’s mainly Peul supporters have taken to the streets, where they have repeatedly clashed with the security forces and Conde’s mainly Malinke backers since Monday.
“Shooting and targeted arrests are continuing,” a resident in Koloma, one of the worst-affected neighbourhoods in Conakry, told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
It is unclear how many people have been killed or injured in recent days (though the security forces have been restrained, for their part, in eschewing guns for restoring order), in what has been an unfortunate extra twist on a topsy-turvy historic election. As previously discussed here, the actual runoff election a week and a half ago went very peacefully. All we can say now is that it remains to be seen what will happen next.
This post originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.