Conakry – Nearly five and a half million Guineans are called on Sunday to choose their next president, the first meeting under tension in a busy West African electoral calendar, scrutinized with concern by democracy advocates.
This election open at 8:00 a.m. (local and GMT), the first in a series of five presidential elections in West Africa before the end of 2020, takes place in a climate of tension that raises fears of unrest, especially around the announcement of results, in a country accustomed to political antagonisms spilling blood.
Twelve candidates are in the running to lead this country of 12 to 13 million inhabitants, among the poorest in the world despite its immense natural resources. The outcome should be played between outgoing Alpha Condé, 82, and his long-time opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68.
One bloody, the other civilized, they clashed in 2010, the first elections deemed democratic after decades of authoritarian regimes, then in 2015. Mr. Condé had won both times.
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Mr. Condé, the only 4th president known to independent Guinea (in addition to two interim presidents), claims to have put back a country he had found in ruins and to have advanced human rights. He promises to do “the second African (economic) power after Nigeria“.
Mr. Diallo proposes to “turning the nightmarish page of 10 years of lies“, criticizing police repression, corruption, youth unemployment and poverty. He said the outgoing person was unable to continue to govern because of his age.
The 2020 election is not immune to the tensions of previous ones. For months, the opposition mobilized against the prospect of a third term for Mr. Condé. The protest was harshly repressed. Dozens of civilians have been killed.
Government and opposition reject the responsibility for these deaths.
– “Tumultuous tomorrow” –
The number of presidential terms is limited to two. But for Mr. Condé, the Constitution he had adopted in March to, he says, modernize the country resets his counter to zero.
The opposition questioned the legitimacy of this Constitution. But Mr. Diallo decided to take part in the presidential election, arguing that to govern, you had to go through the polls.
Carried out by large feverish meetings, the campaign was punctuated with invective, incidents and obstructions, and clashes which left several militants injured.
The importance of ethnicities adds to the volatility of the situation.
There is widespread doubt that either of the main candidates will admit defeat without fighting to the end.
“Alpha Condé, who has come all this way, who changed the Constitution, would he (have gone) that far to lose the election“asks Kabinet Fofana, president of the Political Science Association. And”Cellou Dalein, who lost two elections, who is no longer represented in the Assembly, would he come just to accompany Alpha Condé?”
This “may lead us to think that we will experience a rather tumultuous electoral aftermath“, he believes.
“We won’t throw stones, we won’t break vehicles“, said Prime Minister Kassory Fofana on behalf of thousands of supporters of Mr. Condé gathered Friday for his last meeting.
– “Like obama” –
“Our activists will go and vote quietly“, assures AFP Fodé Oussou Fofana, vice-president of the party of Mr. Diallo. But no question of letting oneself”want“victory again, repeats his camp.
The party has invested a lot of money to bring up the votes itself, he said, so wary of bodies deemed to be subservient to power, despite sending African observers.
The Security Ministry warned on Friday that it was “prohibited“to anyone other than the institutions”recognized“to publish a result.
“We will do exactly like President Obama. (If) we have our own results, we can tweet“, says Fodé Oussou Fofana.
It should take at least a few days to publish a national result.
A possible second round is scheduled for November 24.
The recourse to electoral distortions or to constitutional modifications is among the setbacks of democracy observed by its defenders in recent years in West Africa, once considered to be pioneering.
Following Guinea, presidential elections are scheduled by the end of 2020, in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger. From October 31, the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, where the outgoing Alassane Ouattara is also applying for a third term, also promises to be at high risk.