August 2, 2010 / 6:16 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Guinea ex-PM backs underdog in presidential run-off

* Former PM Kouyate’s party backs Conde in run-off

* Move could secure Kouyate a leadership role in gov’t

(Recasts with official confirmation)

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Guinea’s former Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate on Monday threw his support behind underdog presidential candidate Alpha Conde heading into a run-off vote.

The move was unlikely to bring Conde the votes required to beat favourite Cellou Dallein Diallo, who topped the first round in June and has formed powerful alliances since.

But it could position Kouyate for a leadership role in the bauxite exporting nation after the polls.

Kouyate and Conde signed off on their deal for the second round on Monday afternoon. “We are sure of victory,” Conde said afterwards, calling for a large turnout.

No details of the deal were made public, other than the announcement that it would be Kouyate, the younger of the two, who would coordinate their joint campaign.

But a source in Kouyate’s PEDN party said that Kouyate had been promised a consensus government and the job of president of the national assembly in return for his support.

Guinea’s election is seen as its best chance at drawing a line under decades of authoritarian rule since independence from France in 1958, and could help cement fragile gains in stability in a region rocked by three civil wars in a decade.

The first round of voting was broadly accepted by observers, though they said that logistical problems marred the vote in a number of areas. Guinean politicians also complained about the results but all have since accepted a second round of voting.

Diallo took nearly 44 percent of the vote in first round to Conde’s 18.25 percent. Kouyate came fourth with just over 7 percent. The run-off is expected later this month though a precise date has not yet been set.

Having secured the backing of third placed Sidya Toure, who took 13.62 percent of votes in the first round, and sixth placed Abe Sylla with 3.23 percent, Diallo is the strong favourite.

PEDN spokesman Aboubacar Sacko said the decision to ally with veteran opposition politician Conde, who shares Kouyate’s Malinke ethnicity, was taken after sounding out PEDN supporters.

“Some 98 percent responded in favour of Alpha Conde. We couldn’t have done anything else without the risk of cutting ourselves off from our base,” Sacko said.

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