- The interim government of Guinea has set 27 June as the date for presidential elections. The polls are to end the current military rule and government promises to hold the country's first democratic elections since independence in 1958.
The date was fixed in a decree issued by Guinea's current military leader, General Sekouba Konaté. "The Transition President, Interim President of the republic, sets the date of the first round of the presidential election for June 27," the decree said. If a second poll round would be needed for any candidate to obtain more than 50 percent of the vote, its date was set for 18 July.
The dates fixed by General Konaté's decree correspond with the dates proposed by the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Ben Sekou Sylla, in February. The Commission had asked the recently appointed leader of the country's transitional government and Prime Minister Jean-Marie Doré to approve of the proposal.
Military rule was imposed on the West African nation within hours of the death of long-time ruler general Lansana Conté in 2008. Regional bodies such as ECOWAS and the African Union, but also an increasingly vibrant national opposition have insisted on democratic reforms and a path towards constitutional order in Guinea since the coup.
Confrontations between the military junta and the opposition accumulated in September last year. A crackdown by the army against an opposition rally killed 156 protesters, with troops shooting, stabbing and raping opposition supporters.
Guinea's military junta and opposition leaders signed an agreement on 15 January that paved the way for the establishment of a unity government and a national vote to be held within six months.
The unity government, headed by PM Doré, has already been installed. Election campaigns for the decreed presidential polls are expected to start on 17 May if the electoral commission's proposal is followed. The commission also is in a hurry to build a nation-wide organisation and draw up voter lists.
After the presidential polls, legislative elections will have to be held at a date yet to be set. Currently, the Conakry parliament consists of 155 MPs, many of which have not been elected but appointed by decree.
Guinea has a 52-year-old history of dictatorships and undemocratic rule, with very few well-functioning democratic institutions. Public offices have a tradition of being seen as possibilities for personal enrichment and corruption developed into the norm during previous dictatorships. The population of the resource-rich country nevertheless pins great expectations to the democratic reform process.
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