Thousands in Guinea demand graft-free vote

Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:07pm EST
 

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Opposition supporters held protests across Guinea on Monday to demand a free and fair parliamentary election, fearing the first such vote in more than a decade will be cheapened by fraud.

The May 12 election is intended to be the last step in Guinea's return to civilian rule following the death of veteran strongman Lansana Conte in 2008 and two years of violent army rule.

President Alpha Conde was elected in 2010 and has promised prosperity for Guinea's 10 million people.

The West African nation's economy produces only about $1.50 per person per day despite a wealth of natural resources, including the world's largest untapped iron ore deposit.

But delays in the legislative vote have deepened a political deadlock and led to intermittent violence, unnerving investors as they wait to tap into Guinea's abundant iron ore, bauxite and gold reserves.

Opponents of Conde say preparations for the long-delayed vote have been flawed.

They point to a contract awarded to two companies to update the voter roll, saying the two firms have been skewing the list to favor the president's allies.

"The opposition will not accept dictatorship, the violation of the constitution or laws of the Republic," said former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo. "If Mr Alpha Conde continues to violate these laws then we'll ask him to leave."   Continued...

 
Main opposition figure Cellou Dalein Diallo (L), who was defeated by President Alpha Conde in the 2010 election, takes part in an opposition protest to demand a free and fair parliamentary election, on the streets of the capital Conakry February 18, 2013. REUTERS/Saliou Samb