CONAKRY, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The head of Guinea’s electoral commission has died in Paris after a long illness, officials said on Tuesday, shortly before a presidential election runoff in the the west African state.
Ben Sekou Sylla’s death follows his conviction in absentia last week by a Guinea court for electoral fraud in June’s first round of voting. The ruling triggered fighting between rival political factions and raised doubts as to whether Sunday’s second round could go ahead.
“We are making the required preparations for bringing the body back from Paris and for the burial,” said Foumba Kourouma, an official at the electoral body CENI.
The election in the top bauxite producer is meant to transfer power from a military junta to civilians and draw a line under decades of authoritarian rule.
The death of Sylla, 57, is unlikely to affect organisation of the poll directly. CENI Vice President Aminata Mame Camara is the commission’s interim head but there is a political dispute over whether she is the right official to oversee the run-off.
Police deployed extra forces around the capital Conakry on Monday after one person died and 50 were injured over the weekend in fighting between supporters of the two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde.
Caretaker Guinea Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore said on Monday that maintaining public order was more important than keeping to the Sept. 19 run-off date, giving the strongest sign yet that the poll might be delayed. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; editing by Richard Valdmanis)