Guinea opposition withdraws from U.N.-backed talks

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 08, 2013 12:00 PM
Guinea opposition withdraws from U.N.-backed talks

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea's opposition walked out of U.N.-backed talks with the government on Tuesday, accusing it of rigging last week's legislative elections and deepening fears of a return to violence.

The United Nations brought the two sides together earlier this year after the opposition took to the streets, accusing the government of plotting to rig the vote. Clashes with security forces killed around 50 people.

The parties agreed to let the long-delayed election - which was meant to mark the completion of a democratic transition after a 2008 military coup - take place on September 28.

Partial results to date show President Alpha Conde's ruling RPG party with a slight lead over opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's UFDG and former prime minister Sidya Toure's UFR.

But opposition groups rejected those results on Thursday and pulled their representatives out of the election's organizing commission on Friday.

"We have decided to withdraw from the (U.N.-chaired) facilitation committee because we realized that it served no purpose ... Not a single one of its recommendations have been acted on since it was created," said Toure.

The opposition had said many of its supporters were left off the voting register, whereas other names had been duplicated several times.

The U.N. mediators negotiated a four-day delay to the vote to let organizers change the register, but EU observers later said not all the complaints had been addressed.

"We do not accept the results ... There has been ballot box stuffing, returns annulled from polling stations and ballots changed to favor the ruling party," said Toure.

The ruling party has in turn said there was electoral fraud in the western regions of Boke and Boffa and the southeastern region of Nzerekore, all seen as opposition strongholds.

However, it has said that on the whole the election was sound.

"The opposition should understand that the results coming out reflect the reality on the ground," said Moustapha Naite, spokesman for the ruling RPG party. "Delays have occurred because the opposition demanded, and was given, a manual count."

There was no one immediately available to comment from the U.N. team in the West African country.

More than a week after the September 28 vote, the CENI electoral commission has still not published the results from at least three of the 38 voting districts.

No one party was expected to win an overall majority in the 114-seat assembly.

The economic growth forecast in the world's top bauxite exporter has been slashed to 2.9 percent for this year, down from 4.5 percent, after the protests and political paralysis hit investment in the mining sector.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Andrew Heavens)