CONAKRY (Reuters) - Former Guinean prime minister Sidya Toure bowed out of the country’s presidential race on Thursday, accepting he had lost the first round and offering to work in government with the eventual winner.
Toure had contested the outcome of the landmark June 27 poll intended to restore civilian rule to the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, with official results putting him third after Cellou Dallein Diallo and Alpha Conde.
Diallo and Conde will now go on to a head-to-head second round and Toure could tip the balance by urging his supporters to transfer their votes to one of the two front-runners. A date for the run-off has yet to be fixed.
“Whether we are a victim or not, I think we should start by respecting the institutions and moving on,” Toure told Reuters.
“We shall submit our proposals for government to both the candidates ... it is an alliance that we are after and we shall wait and see the outcome of negotiations with the two leaders,” he said in an interview.
First-round results confirmed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday put Diallo, another former prime minister, on 43.69 percent, well ahead of Conde on 18.25 percent but short of an absolute majority. Toure secured 13.62 percent.
Results showed how ethnic allegiance swayed voters more than policy choice, with Diallo and Conde taking votes from their own large ethnic groups — Peul and Malinke respectively. Toure’s Diakhante minority is just one percent of the population.
“We didn’t want to end up with a second round like this — one in which the two main communities come up against each other in elections,” said Toure, who was premier in the 1990s under late strongman leader Lansana Conte.
“We will do our best to ensure that the campaign will be civilised and not degenerate into slanging matches,” he added.
Diallo’s first-round score marks him out as a strong favourite for the run-off, with veteran opposition leader Conde facing an uphill battle to mobilise enough votes against him.
All mainstream candidates campaigned on pledges to rebuild an economy shattered by decades of misrule and fraud, and which has yet to see the benefit of mineral riches including bauxite, iron and gold.
European and U.S. observers hailed the first round as an advance for democracy but the run-off will be under close scrutiny after a number of logistical failings came to light.
“What we saw this time was a real mess, we really hope that we can organise it better next time,” said Toure.