Guinea vote count starts after peaceful presidential election

Millions of Guineans voted peacefully on Sunday in the West African country’s second free election since the West African country’s independence from France nearly 60 years ago.

Guinea, Africa’s leading producer of bauxite, the raw material for aluminium, has a history of election violence linked to ethnic tensions, including in a 2010 vote that brought President Alpha Conde to power after military rule.

The 77-year-old Conde is widely expected to win a second mandate, although the results were expected to be close enough to require a second round, probably against main rival Cellou Dale in Diallo.

The streets were calm in the capital Conakry and elsewhere after clashes this week between security forces and supporters of rival parties that left several dead and dozens injured.

Plainclothes policemen stood vigil at schools and petrol stations transformed into voting booths where some waited for hours in the rain to cast their ballots.

Casting his vote in the Conakry neighbourhood of Boulbinet, Conde, dressed in a white tunic, reiterated an earlier call for calm. “I hope things go well because Guinea needs peace, Guinea needs unity,” he told reporters.

At some polling stations, voting began only a few minutes behind schedule but in others there were complaints that paperwork and officials had not arrived by late morning.

Some voters’ names were absent from the register. “They told me to leave, they told me not to vote because they can’t find my name or picture on the electoral list,” lamented Abdulaye Barry, at voting station number eight.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) admitted on Saturday that about 7% of the electorate or hundreds of thousands of voters had not received cards, although it was not clear if this was deliberate or whether it had disadvantaged a particular party. It later extended voting by two hours to allow those affected by organisational delays to participate.

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