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A senior MEP has called on the EU to press Guinea to “restore calm” after the weekend presidential elections left the trouble-torn African country in further turmoil.
Official results will not be known for several days and the local media have been banned from publishing exit poll results. But it is widely rumoured that the main opposition candidate, Cello Dalein Diallo, beat the sitting president Alpha Conde by over 50%.
There are now fears of unrest with Diallo suggesting the incumbent may “cheat” and dispute the outcome of Sunday’s (18 October) election in a bid to stay in power.
Diallo is apparently in hiding following rumours that he might be arrested.
Belgian Socialist Maria Arena, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s sub committee on human rights, told this website: “It seems important to me that the European Union, namely the external action service but also the member states, use political and diplomatic dialogue to try to restore calm in Guinea.”
On Monday (19 October), speaking exclusively to this website, Diallo said: “I am convinced from the results obtained that I won this election despite fraud and intimidation. I appeal to officials, territorial administrators and members of the branches of the CENI (Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante) to ensure that all compatriots observe and respect the electoral code and other laws and good practices so that our country does not sink into violence.”
He added: “We don’t need it. But, the risk is that if Alpha Condé wants at all costs, and whatever the results of the ballot box, to proclaim itself the winner. Let him understand that we will not accept.”
Diallo went on, “I now ask the international community to take its responsibilities to save Guinea from drift.”
In the vote, which followed months of political unrest where dozens of people were killed during security crackdowns on mass protests, 82-year-old Conde sought a controversial third term.
Diallo told reporters, “Alpha Conde cannot abandon his desire to grant himself a presidency for life.” He warned his rival not take power using “cunning and violence”.
Diallo said that in the election observers had encountered obstructions at polling stations while Guinea’s Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana admitted there had been “incidents.”
Ten other candidates besides Conde and Diallo contested the poll and, if necessary, a second-round runoff vote is scheduled for November 24.
Much of the tension in Guinea relates to a new constitution Conde pushed through in March, in defiance of mass protests, arguing that it would modernise the country.
The move controversially allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidential terms. Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and won again in 2015 but rights groups now accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism.
Maria Arena, also a member of the Parliament’s influential conference of committee chairs and foreign affairs committee, noted that an emergency resolution had been voted by the assembly in February condemning Condé’s desire to change the constitution by referendum to allow him to exercise a third term.
She said: “In this resolution, the European Parliament had already pointed out human rights violations and urged the government to organize transparent, pluralist and inclusive elections.
“But Condé, who called himself the president of democracy (“the Mandela of West Africa”) changed his ways and took the path of repression by locking up opponents.”
Turning to the current post-election period, she said: “We must avoid repeating the scenes of violence of 2009.”
She added: “Unfortunately the covid pandemic did not allow the EU to deploy an election observation mission. This is damaging for Guinea.
“Guinea, like the other African countries, has signed the Cotonou Agreement, which is still applicable and this agreement provides for sanctions mechanisms in the event of non-respect for good governance and democracy. The European Council will also be able to use this tool if the elections lead to a failure to respect these principles and if the Guinean population is a victim.”
Further comment comes from foreign affairs committee chairman German MEP David McAllister who told this website he did not want a repeat of the violence seen during the legislative elections and a constitutional referendum in March which he said “was deeply shocking”.
“The EU has rightly called on the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations so that those responsible can be prosecuted.
“The presidential election on Sunday was included amongst the 2020 priorities for an EU-Election Expert Mission but the political situation in the country made it impossible to deploy a mission, as the minimal conditions were clearly lacking. Furthermore, the Guinean authorities did not actively send any invitation to the EU for an election observation,” said the EPP deputy.