International observers denounce Guinea voting flaws

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2013 6:20 AM

CONAKRY (Reuters) - International observers have denounced voting flaws in Guinea's parliamentary election, saying they may undermine the results of a poll meant to seal the transition of the mineral-rich West African nation to democracy.

Opposition groups have already demanded the annulment of the September 28 election and on Tuesday they quit U.N.-backed talks with President Alpha Conde's government after accusing it of rigging the vote, stoking fears of a return to violence.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, representatives from the United States, France, the European Union, the United Nations and regional bloc ECOWAS said they had identified problems with voting in eight electoral districts.

"Short-comings and irregularities were observed in a certain number of constituencies hindering the consideration of a significant number of ballots and therefore possibly bringing into question the fairness of some results," the statement said.

The group also urged all parties to stay calm and to make use of available legal channels for any potential challenges to the results.

Around 50 people were killed in violent political protests in the months before the election, which was touted as completing Guinea's move to democracy following a 2008 coup.

The EU's observer mission has already pointed to flaws, including the use of outdated voter rolls, in the organization of the poll, which had been delayed by political haggling.

Partial results to date show 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 last Thursday and pulled their representatives out of the election's organizing commission the following day.

"The republican opposition reaffirms its demand for the cancellation pure and simple of these elections due to their eminently fraudulent nature," Guinea's main opposition parties said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

More than a week after the 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.

Guinea slashed its economic growth forecast for 2013 to 2.9 percent from 4.5 percent after the violent protests and political paralysis hit investment in the mining sector.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Joe Bavier, Editing by Gareth Jones)