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Guineans started voting on Sunday morning, slightly ahead of schedule, in the first round of a high-risk presidential election that launches a busy electoral cycle in West Africa.

Polling stations opened Sunday, October 18 in Guinea for the first round of the presidential election. Voting operations started more than half an hour before the official office opening time, set at 8 a.m. (local time and GMT), as reported by AFP journalists.

It is an election that raises concern in the international community. After a vindictive and feverish campaign, the first round of the Guinean presidential is held in a climate of extreme tension fueled by the protest against the candidacy ofAlpha Condé, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015.

The home stretch of the campaign has indeed been marked by numerous incidents in this country where violent political confrontation and the instrumentalization of ethnic issues are commonplace. The days preceding the vote were punctuated by personal attacks, obstructions and clashes which left several injured between activists from the two main competitors, Alpha Condé and Cellou Dalein Diallo.

On the night of Thursday to Friday, an officer was killed in the grounds of the Kindia military camp, about 100 kilometers from the capital, and on Friday, October 16, the security forces blocked access to the center without explanation. from Conakry.

So many reasons for many Guineans to consider with concern the vote of Sunday, October 18 and even more its aftermath, if the results are tight or if the operation gives rise to suspicions of fraud.

Voters are invited to choose between twelve contenders. Barring any surprises, the competition will return to a third round between Alpha Condé and Cellou Dalein Diallo, already opponents in 2010 and 2015.

It is the confrontation of two old actors of the Guinean scene, with diametrically opposed styles. One, civilized (Diallo), ensures that his time has come. The other, more frontal (Condé), does not judge any of his opponents up to the task.

“Only promises”

Guineans interviewed by AFP, supporters or not of Cellou Dalein Diallo, express their exasperation. Their country is one of the poorest in the world, despite immense mineral and hydrological resources.

Former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo drained the crowds Thursday October 15 for his return to Conakry and was not planning an event for the last day of the campaign, which ended Friday October 16 at midnight. The announcement of the results should take several days. A second round would take place on November 24.

Conversely, thousands of people flocked Friday, October 16 in the large stadium of September 28 in Conakry, decked out in yellow, the color of the ruling party, for the last big meeting of the outgoing president, placed under high security.

The 82-year-old Alpha Condé had the Constitution amended in March to, he says, modernize the country. It allows him to run for a third term, Because the presidential clocks would be reset.

Democratic setbacks

Alpha Condé’s candidacy has taken thousands of opponents to the streets for a year. The severely repressed protest claimed the lives of dozens of civilians.

According to them, human rights defenders denounce the drift of this former historical opponent, who in 2010 became the first democratically elected president after years of authoritarian regimes. He castigates the biases of his detractors and blames his opponents for the violence.

He claims to have rehabilitated a country he had found in ruins, with major projects and reforms designed to overcome the reluctance of investors to engage in an environment of failing infrastructure and widespread corruption. He prides himself on having advanced human rights and promises to make Guinea “the second power [économique] African after Nigeria “.

Following the Guineans, millions of West Africans are called to elect their president by the end of 2020, in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger.

The presidential election of October 31 promises to be high risk too in Ivory Coast, where the outgoing Alassane Ouattara is also applying for a third term. Beyond the specter of the presidency for life, the defenders of democracy are alarmed by the setbacks of their cause in a West Africa considered once a pioneer on the continent.

With AFP

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