June 30, 2010 / 2:32 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 3-Guinea court gives more time for election result

* Supreme Court delays results, citing logistical problems

* EU observers, U.S. play down complaints against poll

* Electoral commission says is aware of cases of fraud

(Adds electoral commission, party comment)

By Daniel Magnowski and Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, June 30 (Reuters) - Guinea’s Supreme Court gave election authorities a further 48 hours on Wednesday to publish provisional results from Sunday’s presidential election, citing logistical and other problems.

The delay came after European Union observers said they were broadly satisfied with the vote while the United States, a major financial backer of the elections, urged political parties not to overstate concerns about irregularities.

A smooth election is seen as vital to boosting investment in the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, unlocking aid to combat widespread poverty and easing the threat of ethnic confrontation that could destabilise a volatile region.

“The President of the Supreme Court ... taking into account logistical, material and security difficulties, gives the national electoral commission a prolongation of 48 hours to publish total provisional results,” the court said.

Results had been due later on Wednesday but the move means the electoral commission now has until Friday to publish them.

The electoral commission blamed the delay on practical difficulties collecting and counting ballot papers, but also said it was aware of incidents of fraud.

“Many cases of fraud have been registered,” commission president Ben Sekou Sylla told reporters. “Those responsible have been arrested.”

“GENERALLY SATISFACTORY”

If successful, the vote would be the first free poll since independence from France in 1958.

Some candidates and observers have complained of irregularities in an election aimed at passing rule back to civilians from the current junta, which seized power with the death of veteran ruler Lansana Conte in late 2008.

On Wednesday, party the Assembly of Guinean People (RPG), whose candidate Alpha Conde is seen as a front runner, became the latest to complain about the poll, denouncing “the bad organisation, manipulation and attempts at fraud, at falsification of results, notably in districts of Conakry”.

Conakry’s streets were quieter than usual late on Wednesday.

But foreign observers and donors were upbeat.

“We did not see any direct attempts at fraud,” EU observation mission chief Alexander von Lambsdorff told reporters earlier on Wednesday. “We are aware of the accusations, and we are investigating.”

“Despite the logistical difficulties which marked election day, the (election commission) was able to conduct voting operations in generally satisfactory conditions,” he said.

The U.S. recognised some “some technical and procedural problems” but said there was no evidence that they threatened the credibility of the polls.

Guinea’s election, which pitted 24 candidates against each other, has been hailed by diplomats and analysts for the speed with which it was organised and the calm atmosphere in which it was held after a turbulent year for Guinea.

It was held seven months after the then-junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded in a gun attack, allowing his deputy Sekouba Konate to assume control and, heavily backed by foreign donors, guide the country to elections.

Most analysts expect the first round to be inconclusive, leaving two candidates to contest a run-off on July 18. Alongside the RPG’s Conde, former prime ministers Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure are seen as the front runners. (Editing by David Lewis and Philippa Fletcher)

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