June 30, 2010 / 6:55 AM / 8 years ago

Doubts emerge over Guinean poll credibility

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Doubts emerged on Tuesday over the credibility of Guinea’s presidential election, billed as its first free poll since independence, after leading candidates and a U.S. observer team cited flaws.

It was the first hint of possible wrangling over the outcome of Sunday’s first-round poll, which attracted a turnout of 80 percent and won international praise for avoiding violence and raising hopes of an end to military rule in the West African state.

A smooth election is seen as vital to boosting investment in Guinea, the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, unlocking aid to combat widespread poverty and easing the threat of ethnic strife that could set alight an unstable region.

“Confusion about several important aspects of voting and counting procedures, delay in allocation of polling stations, and late delivery of essential voting materials negatively affected the quality of polling,” the Carter Center human rights group said in a statement.

The faults had the “potential to undermine the principles of universal and equal suffrage”, added the Center, which had an observation team of more than 30 members alongside European and African observers.

Guinea’s National Council of Civil Society Organisations (CNOSC) said its observers saw “attempts at fraud” in some polling stations, citing an attempt at multiple voting in one, and a member of a political party who was expelled from another for trying to spread propaganda.

“These attempts were stopped thanks to the vigilance of observers and the population,” spokesman Taran Diallo said.

Preliminary results are due by Wednesday. Local media have published results from a few individual polling stations but no reliable trend has yet emerged.

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