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Making democracy work

Nov 8, 2010, 11:32 AM

All the citizens in a modern democracy cannot run the administration. Only their representatives can do it for them. In order to choose such representatives elections are a must. Democracy is all about the government of the people, by the people and for the people, and nothing else. 

The people of Guinea, including those resident in The Gambia yesterday went to the polls to elect a new president. In doing so, Guineans have exercised their fundamental right, a right that can never be compromised.

Sunday's critical second round of presidential election was aimed at returning the country to civilian rule.

The weekend election was the first free vote since independence from France in 1958 and, if it passes smoothly, could improve stability in a country whose people have suffered in recent times.

Elections are a prerequisite for any true democracy, hence it is all about direct representation of people.

The importance of elections in a democracy is seen through the opportunity citizens have to pick leaders of their choice to represent them in the governance structures.

The freedom to choose leaders in an atmosphere that allows participating political parties to sell their manifestos to attract voters is what distinguishes a democracy from a dictatorship.

The run-up to the vote in Guinea was turbulent, with at least one killed and dozens injured in clashes between rival political camps, and rows over electoral preparations leading to delays for the second round, since the first vote was held in June.

We hope that the two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, will ensure that peace is maintained, even after the announcement of results.

As political leaders, they are expected to behave maturely, and to put aside ethnic rivalries and avoid making statements that can incite their supporters.

Indeed, it is clear that any instability in Guinea would not only hamper development in that country, but the West Africa sub-region as a whole.

Thus, what matters, at the end of the day, is that the choice and wishes of the majority of Guineans prevails.