CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea’s President has postponed a parliamentary election originally scheduled for July 8 to give officials more time to fix problems in the vote registration system, a move the opposition said would boost the credibility of the poll.
The election is supposed to mark the final step in the West African state’s transition from military to civilian rule and help it unlock billions of dollars of aid.
The European Union has said it will only resume full cooperation after the election in Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of aluminium ore bauxite.
“I want all prerequisites addressed and problems resolved before a realistic date (to hold the elections) is proposed,” President Alpha Conde said on Guinea national television on Friday evening after meeting election commission officials.
He did not set a new date.
Guinean opposition parties welcomed the postponement and said they had expected the announcement.
“What is important to us is not the date of the election but the credibility of the electoral process. That is what the opposition is struggling for,” Mouctar Diallo, a spokesperson for the opposition said on Saturday.
Opposition parties had threatened to boycott the poll if disputes over voter registration and their representation on the election commission were not resolved.
The Guinean government had planned to revamp the voter registration process, including a census and new registration drive, but relented after opposition parties said it would be unconstitutional to make the changes between the 2010 presidential vote and the upcoming parliamentary election.
The stand-off had heightened tension in the coup-plagued nation and had led to clashes between security forces and opposition supporters.
The voter registration process was delayed by what authorities said were technical problems after a French and later a South African company were brought in to oversee the computerisation of the electoral system.
In his television address, Conde said the technical issues concerned the transfer of voter data from the French to the South African company.
Conde, who won a hotly contested 2010 second-round presidential election against Cellou Dalein Diallo, has promised to heal the country’s deep ethnic and political divisions, but opposition leaders say he has made little progress.
According to Guinea’s constitution, the president has to confirm the date of an election 70 days before it is held.