CONAKRY – The Bauxite rich West African country of Guinea is in turmoil after controversial official election results by the independent electoral commission (CENI) declared the 82yr old sitting President Alpha Conde winner of the October 18 2020 elections. Though the election was already marred with violence and opposition protests against the third term bid of the President, violence in the country has worsened after it took a week after polling day to declare official results. 

The delayed announcement of the Presidential results in Guinea created massive suspicion among many opposition elements in the country. They have accused President Alpha Conde and elements within the electoral commission of scheming to rig the elections in his own favor.  

Incumbent Alpha Conde, 82, is seeking a controversial third presidential term, a move that has triggered months of deadly unrest in Guinea [Sadak Souici/Reuters]

Even before the independent electoral commission declared the President winner of the elections on Saturday, the main opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo declared himself winner of the elections, giving himself 53.8% of total votes cast. His supporters took to the streets to celebrate the announcement but faced hostility from hostile security forces that have shot and killed at least 102 protesters, according to independent media reports.

Guinean opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo

Before the official declaration, President Condé called for calm while the country awaited the official election results.

And prior to the delayed official announcement that declared the sitting President winner on Saturday, two members of the independent electoral commission of Guinea, Heleine sylla and diogo Balde, according to state media reports, both quit their posts citing what they considered to be undue pressure from the regime of Alpha Conde on the independent electoral commission to falsify results in his favor.

Last Saturday, the Guinea electoral commission nevertheless declared President Alpha Conde winner of the October 18 elections with 59.5% of the total vote casts while crediting main opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo with only 33.5% of the total vote. This paves way for the president to do a third term of five more years in power with the endorsement of the country’s constitutional court.

The formal announcement sparked protests from opposition supporters who clashed with security forces loyal to the President. At least, 11 people were shot dead on the day of the official declaration. But so far, the controversially re-elected President has not delivered a victory speech and has also not been seen in public since the announcement, sparking rumors of ill-health from the opposition press. 

Official results give President Conde a lead of 1.2 million votes with 37 out of 38 electoral districts counted, Guinean state media reported.

Violence in Guinea started after President Condé’s controversial decision earlier this year to seek a third term, which required a change to the constitution and violence continues to spread widely since the elections on October 18.

Even before the results were announced, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo alleged fraud and declared himself the winner, prompting street protests in opposition strongholds in which at least 17 died. 

 On Saturday, Conde’s supporters did a citywide drive through celebration after the official announcement. Soldiers loyal to President Alpha Conde in red berets continue to patrol the streets of Conakry in tanks, some fit with gun turrets and seemingly ready for combat with any opposing forces. 

Livingston Pay-Charlie, opposition activist and communication adviser for Cellou Dalein Diallo told Africa6News the opposition would keep the street protests going unabated at the peril of their lives until the main opposition candidate is allowed by President Conde to form a government of national unity.

‘’The military of Guinea is divided. They have stopped intervening on the streets despite what the state-controlled media wants you to believe. Everyone understands that President Alpha Conde’s support from the Guinean people is a slim one from one minority tribe in one region. Our candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo has a much more broader support base from all the four regions’’.

So far, the international community has not taken sides in the electoral dispute in Guinea although some reports suggests Russia and France are secretly in support of the President who changed the country’s constitution to enable him run for a third term. 

As the country with two thirds of the world’s bauxite deposits, Guinea is a hot spot for Western multinational interests such as the Russian mining company Rutsal that runs the biggest mining operations in Guinea.

Pay-Charlie said, all foreign companies operating in Guinea have been warned by the opposition to halt business operations in their own interests. Compliance with this warning has brought business operations in the country especially in the capital Conakry, to a standstill. 

Recently, a cargo train got burnt with its contents set ablaze by angry protesters demanding an end to the rule of Alpha Conde.

 ‘’So for the meantime, the agenda remains ‘Alpha Must Go’ and achieving that can only result from everyday nationwide protests with warnings for traders and companies – both local and foreign – to remain closed and grind operations to a halt until a new government led by Cellou Dalein Diallo  is installed in Guinea’’ Livingston Pay-Charlie reiterated to Africa6News.

Many fear the political impasse in guinea could create room for a military takeover akin to the recent events in Mali but the opposition says they prefer a military transitional government to the third term reign of the 82yr old President Alpha Conde.

A UN-AU-ECOWAS mediation team has arrived in guinea to mediate in the ongoing impasse but the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), which emerged in the aftermath of the electoral commission’s formal declaration on Saturday as a coalition of all opposition political parties in Guinea has unanimously turned down an invitation by the UN-AU-ECOWAS mediation team. The FNDC has claimed that the international mediation group arrived in Guinea with an overly simplistic approach to a rather deep political crisis created by alpha Conde and any dialogue with this mediation group will amount to a total and utter waste of their time.

Meanwhile, the government of Alpha Conde has ordered the army to use all necessary force to restore order following violent protests over the past couple of days.

Before he came to power in 2010, Alpha Conde was the longest serving opposition leader in the West African nation of Guinea. He went to prison for challenging General Lansana Conté, who ruled Guinea from 1984 until his demise in 2008. Conde came to power with a huge task to bring democratic reforms and accountability to the bauxite rich nation with basic respect for human rights, good governance and rule of law. Until recently, he was seen as the first genuinely and democratically elected President of Guinea since 52 years of independence. President Conde won re-election in 2015 and was expected to retire in 2020 according to the rule of law and the country’s old constitution. 

Early this year, the regional body ECOWAS claimed it had identified 2.5 million ghost names as electors on the voters’ register just before the referendum to change the country’s constitution to favor Mr. Conde’s political agenda.  The position of ECOWAS at the time fell in line with similar claims from the Guinean opposition. This led to the opposition boycotting the referendum and giving Mr. Condé an easy road to constitutional changes in his own favor. 

In 2014-2016, Guinea was one of three West African nations hit very hard by the EBOLA pandemic but this helped the country to develop experience in tackling infectious diseases such as the COVID-19 global pandemic with the country recording some of the lowest infections and death rates in Sub-Saharan Africa this year.

Many Sub-Saharan African nations are holding elections before the end of 2020 and the issue of electoral violence in all these countries is a major topic in international and regional mainstream media discussions. These countries include: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Niger, Tanzania, Seychelles and Cape verde. 

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara also changed that country’s constitution to make it possible for his third term run for President while barring his main rival laurent Gbagbo and other strong opposition elements from the Presidential contest in that country, sparking fears of violence and possible civil war in a nation with a history of brutal armed conflict. Source: Africa6News

Story By: Sacut Amenga-Etego