July 5, 2010 / 10:32 AM / in 9 years

Guinea bans vote protests before court verdict

* Caretaker PM bans demonstrations

* Court ruling on vote could take 11 days

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, July 5 (Reuters) - Guinea’s caretaker government banned street marches called on Monday to protest against alleged fraud in the country’s landmark presidential poll, now set for a run-off between the two front-runners.

Former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo won June 27’s poll with nearly 40 percent of the vote and will now go forward into a July 18 head-to-head with second-placed Alpha Conde, according to provisional results released last week.

But losing parties in the poll, widely seen as the West African state’s best chance in half a century of securing democratic civilian rule, said they have evidence of rigging such as ballot-stuffing and falsified voters’ cards.

“I will not accept any public order disturbance by people contesting things for which they have no proof and while the Supreme Court has not pronounced its verdict,” caretaker prime minister Jean-Marie told state television late on Sunday.

Candidates have eight days from Monday to lodge formal complaints with the Supreme Court, which will then rule on the validity of the election within three days.

A Reuters eyewitness said there was no evidence of crowds forming in the capital Conakry. The party of third-placed Sidya Toure, a former prime minister, is among those who called rallies in the central Kaloum district for Monday.

Election observers from the European Union and the Carter Center said they were broadly satisfied with the vote, while noting irregularities caused by logistical problems.

Guinea is the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite and a handful of mining firms are currently jockeying for position to exploit its iron ore resources.

A smooth poll would help draw a line under a turbulent 18 months of military rule since the death of President Lansana Conte in 2008 and open the door to further aid and investment.

Yet analysts point to the culture of decades of mismanagement in the civil administration and warn that efforts to build the economy and a functioning political system could take years and require international help.

The Guinean army, with a reputation for poor discipline that was reinforced last September when security forces massacred pro-democracy marchers in Conakry, has maintained a discreet security presence during and since Sunday’s election.

Sekouba Konate, the soldier who took control of the country after former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded in an assassination attempt late last year, has issued a batch of promotions to army officers for their part in securing the poll. (Writing by Mark John; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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