Guinea Sets June 30 For Long-Delayed Parliamentary Poll

by
Reuters
Guinea will hold its long-delayed legislative election on June 30 to complete the West African nation's transition to democracy, a decree signed by President Alpha Conde and read on state television said on Saturday.

Guinea's President Alpha Conde and France's President Hollande attend a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

* Guinea's Conde set June 30 date for polls

* Decision could anger opposition, spark protest

Guinea will hold its long-delayed legislative election on June 30 to complete the West African nation's transition to democracy, a decree signed by President Alpha Conde and read on state television said on Saturday.

The election was initially planned for 2011 but as been postponed repeatedly over disagreement between the government and Guinea's opposition coalition on organisation of the poll.

The vote is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule after a 2008 military coup and could unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in European aid.

"Voters are called to the polls on June 30 for the legislative elections," the decree said.

Conde's decision could, however, put the government on a collision course with the opposition, which has vowed to disrupt the polls if its demands are not met.

The opposition, which accuses Conde of trying to rig the vote, wants South African firm Waymark stripped of a contract to revise the voter list and demands that the mostly pro-opposition diaspora be allowed to vote.

Nine people were killed and more than 300 were wounded during two weeks of clashes in late February and early March between security forces and opposition protesters, calling for the government to accept their demands.

The government says there is not enough time to bring in a new firm to manage the voter roll and that Waymark's system is secure against fraud.

"All our partners are convinced that Waymark can do the job. So anyway, Waymark is not leaving," government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said on Saturday before the president's decision. Waymark has not commented on the dispute.

The opposition warned earlier on Saturday that any unilateral decision by the government could push them back to the streets.

"If the government persist on this line of action, we have no other choice but to take the streets," said former prime minister Sidya Toure, who came third in the 2010 presidential election won by Conde and is now one of the opposition leaders.

The opposition had agreed to reopen talks with the government last week, but said the talks broke down after the government decided to move ahead with election preparations.

Preparations, including voter registration, had been suspended as part of the opposition's demand to end the protests in March.

Guinea is the world's top supplier of the aluminium ore bauxite and holds rich deposits of iron ore, gold and diamonds, but political turmoil has unnerved investors.