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Africa
Guinea poll candidates allege fraud
Ballot stuffing and irregularities alleged by 17 out of 24 candidates in election.
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2010 06:37 GMT
Three of the front-runners in Sunday's election have complained of irregularities [AFP]

A group of candidates who ran in what was described as Guinea's first free election since independence, has denounced what it calls widespread fraud in the poll.

A spokesman for 17 of the 24 candidates who ran for president issued a statement on Wednesday alleging ballot stuffing in the capital, Conakry, and across the country.

Three of the front-runners in Sunday's election also complained of irregularities.

The statement said that "an uneven delivery of service to voters in different parts of the country and confusion over proper election day procedures has the potential to undermine the principles of universal and equal suffrage".

Abe Sylla, a spokesman for 17 parties who fielded candidates in the race, said that "in Conakry, as well as in the interior of the country, there has been ballot-box stuffing".

Irregularities

The party of Cellou Dalein Diallo, the former prime minister, also alleged
irregularities, saying some ballot boxes containing 67,000 had "disappeared" and then been found by party supporters.

IN DEPTH

 A force for democracy in Guinea
 Background: Tensions in Guinea
 

Alpha Conde, an opposition leader, said that in some locations, the electoral had set up polling stations dozens of kilometers away from where people had been registered to vote and then declared it illegal - for security reasons - for unauthorised persons to move around in vehicles.

However, Pathe Dieng, head of operations for the West African nation's independent electoral commission, denied the allegations and said there had been "no massive fraud'' in the vote.

Patricia Newton Moller, US ambassador to the country, said international observers had "found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud'' and called political parties "to refrain from overstating electoral issues for political gain".

"Elections are never perfect,'' she said, adding that reports from international observers showed "that every effort was made to ensure that the process was fair and where issues arose, they do not appear to have been systematic, nor do they undermine the credibility of these polls.''

Transparent process

The US-based Carter Center, which sent observers to monitor the vote, said the electoral commission had "exhibited good faith efforts in their attempts to ensure a credible, transparent, and peaceful process".

Preliminary results were expected by Wednesday, but the Supreme Court allotted the electoral commission two more days to publish initial results.

Thierno Seydou Bayo, an electoral commission spokesman, said more time was needed to count all votes and the commission would not publish partial findings.

If no candidate wins a 50 per cent majority, the top two finishers will face off in a second round on July 18.

Sunday's vote had been praised as the first free vote since independence from France in 1958.

Guinea, which has one of the world's largest reserves of bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum, and billions of dollars worth of iron ore, was a one-party state until its first coup in 1984.

The country was then governed for 24 years under the military rule of Lansana Conte.

Source:
Agencies
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