Guinea's interim president, Gen. Sekouba Konate, on Wednesday set the date of the country's much-delayed presidential runoff election for November 7, a day after the nation's prime minister said voters would go to the polls on Sunday.
The decree from Konate, who is also leader of the ruling military junta, was read on national television Wednesday night.
The head of the West African country's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), in agreement with the prime minister, had proposed this Sunday, October 31, as the election date. But the presidential decree Wednesday night meant that elections will be moved back a week.
One candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, had said that the October 31 date was too soon after political and ethnic violence around the country, which killed at least two people in the past week. Diallo said that more than a thousand people have been forced from their homes after violence in Kankan, Siguiri and Kissidougou -- strongholds of his rival, Alpha Conde.
"The second round of the presidential election is set for Sunday, November 7th, 2010," said Mohamed Kasse, director of the president's press office on national TV.
Kasse also noted that the two candidates would travel together to regions hit by violence in the past week, in an effort the keep the peace.
"Tomorrow .. the two candidates accompanied by government and religious figures will visit the prefectures effected by recent violence -- Mamou, Kissidougou and Siguiri -- to raise awareness," Kasse said.
The president of the electoral commission, retired Malian general Siaka Toumani Sangare, said this date will be the final one.
"It is a consensual date that will hold permanently. It will, I dare believe, be the final date for the election," Sangare said on state TV.
Both candidates agreed on the date.
"Anything that will help strengthen the peace and the prospect that Guineans can be relieved of this long process, the RPG doesn't have any problem with, so we on agree on the date that has been set," said Moustapha Naite, a spokesperson for Conde's RPG party.
"We are very satisfied with the 7th and we're also very satisfied by the proposition that the two candidates go together to Mamou, Siguiri and Kissidougou...I think that symbolically, it's a very good thing," said Oury Bah, the vice president of Diallo's UFDG party.
"I think that the technical preparations can be managed by that date and we sincerely hope that the social context in the country will be such that the elections can be undertaken in a calm and peaceful environment," Randall Harbour, the field office director of the Atlanta-based Carter Center election observation team in Guinea, told CNN Wednesday night.
Guinea held the first round of presidential elections on June 27, in which Diallo won roughly 44 percent and Conde 18 percent. The runoff has since been officially delayed three times for technical and political reasons.
Guinea has never held a credible presidential election in its 52-year history. It has been ruled by a military junta since the death of longtime autocrat Lansana Conte in December 2008.