Guinea leader urges "maturity" during vote count

AP News
Posted: Oct 02, 2013 10:55 AM

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's president on Wednesday urged voters not to worry about the aftermath of the country's first legislative election in more than a decade, vowing to strengthen the security forces while calling on politicians to behave with "maturity" as they await results.

In a speech marking the 55th anniversary of Guinea's independence, President Alpha Conde said the election would give the country legitimate national representation in government for the first time.

"The political debate must leave the street and take place in parliament," Conde said in his speech delivered in N'Zerekore, a town in Guinea's southeast forest region.

After decades of military and strongman rule, Conde won Guinea's first democratic presidential election in 2010. Legislative elections were delayed for nearly two years before finally being held Saturday.

Although the 2010 presidential contest was thought to be transparent overall, it showcased a deep divide between the country's Malinke and Peul ethnic groups, each of which represents about 40 percent of the population. Voters overwhelmingly backed politicians from their own groups — the Malinke supported Conde while the Peul backed opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo.

The run-up to Saturday's vote was marred by disputes over how it would be conducted that led to deadly protests as recently as last week, and analysts had warned that the election and its aftermath could result in violence.

Conde said Wednesday, however, that order would be maintained.

"After the election, there will be nothing. The state is there to maintain order," he said. "We will strengthen the police forces... so that they are ready to act. We will strengthen the military battalions."

Opposition leaders have already said the vote was marred by "appalling" fraud, something the government denies.

The European Union observer mission has criticized organizational flaws but said Guinean voters were able to express their will freely.

Provisional results were originally expected Tuesday but have been pushed back as votes continue to come in from around the country. The election commission now plans to begin releasing results from individual polling stations as early as Wednesday night.