- As Guinea prepares for its 27 July elections that are to introduce democracy to the country, international election observers are now preparing to deploy. African, European and US observers are expected in Guinea.
The European Union (EU) by now has recruited its entire team of election observers, while the so-called "core team" was deployed in Conakry already last week, establishing the central that is to monitor Guinea's milestone elections.
During June, two more European teams are to be deployed in Guinea, including a "long term observers" team of professionals that is to look into the structures of democracy and the electoral campaign period. A more numerous team of "short term observers" with poorer training will observe the actual poll exercise, only staying in the country from 11 to 23 July.
The EU election observer mission is seen as the key monitoring team for an international assessment of the freedom and fairness of the Guinean poll. Its conclusions will determinate the way Western governments will view the legitimacy of the next Guinean leadership.
But also an important American election observer mission is on its way to Guinea, organised by the independent Carter Centre under US ex-President Jimmy Carter. The Carter Centre will deploy eight long-term observers throughout Guinea this week to formally launch its international election observation mission. The mission is supported by an office in Conakry, which was established in mid-May.
US observers will meet with Guinean election officials; political party and civil society representatives, including domestic observation groups; members of the international community; and other stakeholders, to form an assessment that focuses on elections administration, the campaign period, voting and counting procedures, and other issues related to the overall electoral process in Guinea. They will be joined by 22 additional short-term observers from various nationalities around election day.
The conclusions of the Carter Centre, while not as influential as the EU missions, are often the most outspoken and critical, not as bound to diplomatic considerations as the EU. Few countries not planning a relatively free and fair election therefore invite the Carter Centre, but Guinea's transitional authorities sent a written invitation to the centre in March.
Also the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are preparing election observer missions to Guinea. Especially ECOWAS has been deeply involved in preparations for free elections in the country, including training of election officials and security efforts.
The 27 July elections will be the first truly democratic elections in the history of Guinea, ending a period of transition towards democracy and constitutional rule. The outcome of the poll still seems totally open.
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