- Political strife and conflict within the electoral authority (CENI) had led to several delays in finding a date for Guinea's run-off elections. Now, with army pressure and a new CENI leader, 10 October seems to get general approval.
Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé won most votes in Guinea's first-ever democratic elections in June. A run-off between the two candidates should have been organised months ago, but the independent electoral authority, CENI, has as yet been unable to agree on a date for the exercise.
The setting of a run-off election date has been postponed several times. CENI has seen both internal conflict and has cited technical difficulties that would hinder it from arranging a fair and transparent election. Also, clashes between followers of candidates Diallo and Condé in Conakry led to postponements.
Mr Condé had also caused further delays by demanding the set-up of further polling stations in areas that are his traditional strongholds, claiming this region had been provided with the lowest density in the first round. The claims caused internal feuds in the CENI, but some 1,600 new polling stations are now being set up.
The continued delays have caused increased concerns about the newfound political stability and democratisation process in Guinea, a country still ruled by a military junta that took power to oversee the democratisation process.
Only yesterday, the UN representative for Guinea, Said Djinnit, warned CENI it may cause a political crisis if not agreeing on an election date soon. Mr Djinnit stressed that a "further delay could seriously undermine the transition" process in Guinea. He added that the current situation increased the risk of another army takeover in the country.
Guinea's acting military ruler, General Sekouba Konaté, indeed has demonstrated impatience about the current stalemate. After meeting with the electoral commission and both presidential candidates, General Konaté yesterday set out a demand for an election date, adding he would not accept another postponement.
It was the first intervention of the General in the electoral run-off debate. Mr Konaté had wanted to keep out of the conflict and let the CENI and political parties do their job. But it soon turned out that the powerful statement from the General was necessary to overcome the stalemate.
As a fist step, CENI today elected a new leader - Lounseny Camara - to fill in a position that was vacant since the CENI President died of natural causes in December. The interim CENI president, leading the agency since December, was not given renewed confidence as she was a member of candidate Diallo's party. Mr Camara, on the other hand, is seen as close to Mr Condé.
Under the new CENI leader, and following General Konaté's pressure, the election commission soon agreed on proposing 10 October as the new date for a run-off. The date now has to be approved by Guinea's interim government.
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