Guinea opposition may sue over election panel

AP News
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Posted: Oct 30, 2012 7:11 PM
Guinea opposition may sue over election panel

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's opposition is threatening court action over the makeup of the country's election commission, whose new members were appointed via a presidential decree this week.

The coalition of opposition parties held a meeting Tuesday, and in a press conference following their session, they said that if the list is not changed, they will file a lawsuit, further complicating an already drawn-out fight which has made it impossible for Guinea to hold legislative elections. Disagreements over arcane details of the electoral process have spilled into violent street protests, paralyzing Guinea's capital.

The 25-seat electoral body is made-up of 10 members from the ruling party, 10 from the opposition, three from civil society and two from the administration. Opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla said that of the 10 seats reserved for the opposition, only nine were in fact opposition members.

"We have determined with much regret that our list was altered — it was modified, because instead of 10 of our members, we only found nine. We are not in agreement with this manner of doing things. The presidential decree has violated the spirit of the law regarding the composition, the organization and the functioning of the CENI (the electoral body)," Sylla said on Tuesday. "We have therefore decided to use our right to introduce an appeal to the Supreme Court in order to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate this decree."

The opposition, moreover, said that if the court does not hear their appeal, they will call for a march. Previous marches led by the opposition have led to clashes with security forces, often along ethnic lines, because the country's police and army are largely drawn from the same ethnic group as current President Alpha Conde.

Guinea became one of Africa's "good news" stories in 2010, when it succeeded in holding its first democratic presidential election since winning independence from France in 1958. But the patina of democracy quickly faded, as the country became divided along ethnic lines. Because the nation has failed to hold legislative elections, it now has a democratically elected president but not a functioning parliament.