Vote counting begins in Guinea

Guinean President Alpha Conde

Counting of votes began late on Sunday in Guinea after the country’s second general election in 60 years.

The electoral umpire CENI is officially supposed to release results within 72 hours.

An official said, however, that the provisional outcome was not expected before Oct. 15 or 16.

Millions of Guineans had voted peacefully in the election.

Guinea – Africa’s leading producer of bauxite, the raw material for aluminium – has a history of election violence linked to ethnic tensions, including in a 2010 vote that brought President Alpha Conde to power after military rule.

The 77-year-old Conde is widely expected to win a second mandate, although the results were expected to be close enough to require a second round, probably against main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo.

The streets were calm in the capital Conakry and elsewhere after clashes this week between security forces and supporters of rival parties that left several dead and dozens injured.

Plainclothes policemen stood vigil at schools and petrol stations transformed into voting booths where some waited for hours in the rain to cast their ballots.

Casting his vote in the Conakry neighbourhood of Boulbinet, Conde, dressed in a white tunic, reiterated an earlier call for calm. “I hope things go well because Guinea needs peace, Guinea needs unity,” he told reporters.

At some polling stations, voting began only a few minutes behind schedule but in others there were complaints that paperwork and officials had not arrived by late morning.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) admitted on Saturday that about 7 percent of the electorate or hundreds of thousands of voters had not received cards, although it was not clear if this was deliberate or whether it had disadvantaged a particular party. It later extended voting by two hours to allow those affected by organisational delays to participate.

The president’s opponents had sought a postponement of the vote, citing irregularities.

But in an attempt to defuse tensions between his mostly ethnic Peuhl supporters and those drawn from Conde’s Malinke community, Diallo said on Saturday he would participate in the presidential election.

Diallo also voted on Sunday and called for people to refrain from violence.

Sidya Toure, a former prime minister who placed third against Conde in 2010, denounced problems with the vote. “There was fraud everywhere…In these conditions, it is not a vote,” he said.