Guinea rival candidates ponder power-sharing deal

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2010 1:16 PM
Guinea rival candidates ponder power-sharing deal

Guinea's rival presidential candidates are considering a power-sharing deal following the upcoming runoff vote in a move designed to ease tensions ahead of what is expected to be a divisive contest.

Government spokesman Tibou Kamara said on state TV late Monday that the military general overseeing Guinea's transition to civilian rule had met with candidates Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, whose supporters clashed in violent street fights last month.

Kamara said the two had both agreed that if they win the election, they would consider creating a "national unity" government in the mineral-rich West African nation by appointing members of the opposing party to their Cabinet.

Other African nations have opted for coalition governments in the wake of contested elections which degenerated into violence with varying degrees of success.

In Kenya, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga agreed to a coalition government after election violence following the December 2007 vote left more than 1,000 people dead. Kibaki serves as president and Odinga is the country's prime minister.

And in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe and longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe following the disputed 2008 election, although deep divisions have emerged in their shaky coalition.

A spokesman for Diallo, who received 44 percent of the vote to Conde's 18 percent in the first round, said the party is open to the idea of a coalition, but only after the Oct. 24 runoff vote.

"If we're elected, we will entertain the possibility of giving several posts to the opposing camp. But this is not a Kenyan scenario," he said, indicating that a majority of the posts would go to members of their own party.

After meeting with Conde on Tuesday morning, Diallo reiterated that "whoever the winner may be, he will bring the loser into a national unity government."

Conde agreed saying: "Guineans have to give one another a hand to build peace."

The Oct. 24 election is a milestone for Guinea, which has been ruled by strongmen since independence from France in 1958. Its previous elections were all deemed fraudulent and experts say this could be the country's first chance to freely elect the leader of their choice.

Still, the long anticipated runoff vote already has been postponed and the presidential race has been plagued by tensions. Violence between supporters of opposing candidates left one person dead and more than 50 people wounded last month.

Guinea's people are among the poorest in Africa, despite the fact the country hosts one of the world's largest reserves of bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum, and billions of dollars worth of iron ore, diamonds and gold.