Guinea’s long-delayed nationwide elections, which were due to be held on Tuesday, have been postponed to September 28 after negotiations between the government and the opposition, a UN mediator has said.
Said Djinnit, charged with ending a political deadlock in a country that is prone to violent street protests, said on Sunday that all parties had agreed to the delay to let the electoral commission fine-tune its plans.
“We are convinced that with this agreement, nothing can hinder the holding of parliamentary elections under free, transparent, and inclusive conditions on Saturday, September 28, 2013 in Guinea and abroad,” Djinnit said.
“On behalf of the international community, I am pleased to announce to all Guineans that all stakeholders in the electoral process have subscribed to this commitment.”
Djinnit made the announcement at a press conference attended by leaders of the opposition Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, as well as the presidential majority.
Diallo, the west African nation’s main opposition leader, has accused the president’s camp and the electoral commission of conniving to rig the vote.
Welcoming the four-day delay, Diallo said it is “a compromise on which we can place hopes that CENI (the electoral commission) would proceed with correcting the anomalies”.
The poll, meant to cap Guinea’s transition back to civilian rule, has been delayed repeatedly since President Alpha Conde was elected three years ago, sowing doubts among Guineans, investors and donors over political progress in the world’s top bauxite exporter.
Disagreements between opposing factions on how the elections should be organised have sparked nationwide protests that have left more than 50 dead since 2011.
The last parliamentary elections in Guinea took place in June 2002 during the dictatorship of General Lansana Conte, who died in December 2008 after 24 years in power.
The opposition has complained that the voter list is riddled with errors, meaning many of its supporters have been left off while people elsewhere in the country have been registered several times over.
It also complains that polling stations in opposition strongholds have been scattered far apart, meaning voters would have to travel far and therefore be less likely to vote.
Election experts say the delay will allow organisers to address some of the issues, but a fundamental lack of trust between the two sides and the election commission, which is seen as pro-Conde, means tensions are likely to simmer.