Tensions High After Conde Declared Winner In Guinea

(LATIMES)

If the West African nation of Guinea could hold a successful election after half a century of military dictatorship and authoritarian rule, then who among African democrats could fail to take heart?

That was the feeling after the initial round of Guinea's first democratic presidential election went smoothly in June.

But with runoff results delayed for a week until late Monday night and ethnic violence flaring hours earlier in anticipation of opposition leader Alpha Conde's eventual victory, the future of democracy in the tiny, poverty-stricken country was at risk Tuesday.

Security forces were on the streets following riots staged by the supporters of the losing candidate, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo. Several people were shot to death and dozens were hospitalized.

With political rivalries split along ethnic lines, there were reports that members of the armed forces, most of them part of the Malinke group that Conde belongs to, had fired indiscriminately in strongholds of the Peul, Diallo's ethnic group.