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Focus on Guinea election

Jun 25, 2010, 12:29 PM

People in the sister republic of Guinea Conakry will this weekend go to the polls to elect their new head of state.

The road to democracy for Guinea, according to political observers, is likely to be bumpy, especially if armed soldiers supervise the votes. General Konaté, known as "El Tigre" for his combat prowess, was deputy leader of a junta that seized power in 2008 after the death of Lansana Conté.

The junta's leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, at first promised proper elections. But when, in September, he suggested he would run for office himself, Guinea's opposition groups marched in protest through the capital, Conakry. The captain's supporters  allegedly killed at least 150 protesters. His soldiers gang-raped scores of women. The country faced a bleak future until last December, when Dadis, as he is generally known, was shot in the head by an aide and went abroad for treatment.

Opposition groups and El Tigre then teamed up to form an interim government, and promised to hold elections in the captain's absence. El Tigre has proved to be more serious than Dadis. He has restored a measure of discipline in  the army.

Most important of all, El Tigre is abiding by previous agreements that no member of the interim government may stand for office. But many people are still doubtful. The interim Prime Minister, Jean-Marie Doré, suggests that Dadis, who is convalescing in Burkina Faso, may be stirring up trouble in his native Forest region, where a spate of clashes has led to several deaths.

We call for free, fair and transparent elections in Guinea to avoid further chaos in the West African state.

To make this election credible, the voice of the people of Guinea must be respected no matter what. It is only through holding a clean election that the people of Guinea can enjoy real democracy and total freedom thus moving away from backwardness.

The people of Guinea have suffered over the past decades, and it is time they start breathing the air of freedom and prosperity in that resource-rich country.

The presidential candidates have been criss-crossing Guinea in order to sell their manifestos to the electorate, and now is time to allow people to speak their mind through their ballots.

To the people of Guinea, we urge you not to vote along ethnic and regional lines, but to vote for the candidate you feel can bring development and ever lasting peace to your nation.

To the Guinean army, we advise you to maintained peace throughout the election process, and return to the barracks, after a civilian head of state is elected.

To the hopefuls, we urge you to encourage your supporters to maintain peace during and after election, and to accept the outcome, especially when it is declared to be free, fair and transparent.