CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea will hold a run-off presidential election on September 19 aimed at restoring civilian rule to the West African bauxite producing nation.
The date marks a roughly two-month delay to the decisive second round after candidates challenged the results of the initial poll held on June 27.
“The date of the second round of the presidential election has been fixed for September 19, 2010,” a government decree read out on state television said.
Guinea has been run by a military junta since the death of President Lansana Conte and a subsequent bloodless coup in December 2008. A government report seen by Reuters late last year said the ensuing turmoil had cut into exports of the aluminium ore bauxite.
The run-off will pit former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo against veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde.
The rivals differ little in policy proposals and have both said they plan to review billions of dollars worth of mining deals, signed by multinational companies such as Vale and Rio Tinto.
The election is seen as Guinea’s best chance of 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.
West Africa’s mediator for Guinea, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, called last week for the run-off to be scheduled quickly to ensure the election process was not derailed.
Diallo, who won 44 percent of the vote in the first round, has said he is confident of victory in the run-off after signing a deal with third-placed Sidya Toure, who took 13.62 percent of the initial vote.
Conde, meanwhile, took 18.25 percent in first round but has complained he was robbed because the election commission did not send enough voting material to Haute Guinea region, home to many from his Malinke ethnicity.
Conde has since secured the backing of fourth-placed Lansana Kouyate, a move that will further galvanise support from the Malinke which make up 35 percent of Guinea’s population.
“We hope that, at this point, all of the dysfunction we’ve seen will be fixed,” Conde said on state television after the announcement of the run-off date.
July 18 was first proposed for the run-off but that slipped as challenges to the first round results were heard, and ultimately rejected, by the Supreme Court.
Some critics have accused Guinea’s interim administration, which is headed by Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore and overseen by the military rulers, of trying to prolong its time in power.
Analysts have said the delay could allow the election commission to rectify logistical problems from the first round, but diplomats are eager to see the soldiers return to barracks.