October 12, 2010 / 5:50 AM / 9 years ago

Rival Guinea candidates make power-sharing pledge

Guinea's Defence Minister Sekouba Konate addresses soldiers at the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp in the capital Conakry December 11, 2009. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea’s two rival presidential candidates have agreed to include each other in government whoever wins a delayed October 24 runoff aimed at returning the country to civilian rule, a senior minister said on Monday.

State Minister and Presidency Secretary-General Tibou Kamara said the accord, which could set the stage for a form of national unity government, came after a series of meetings between the candidates and junta leader Sekouba Konate.

“The two candidates are scheduled to meet each other face-to-face for talks (on Tuesday),” Kamara told state television, adding that both former Prime Minister Celou Dalein Diallo and challenger Alpha Conde had also agreed to encourage their supporters to avoid unrest.

The pact, if upheld, could be the best chance of maintaining the peace in the West African country. Last month saw street violence between supporters of Diallo and Conde in which one person was killed, prompting the postponement of the vote.

Diallo, who came out ahead in the June first round with 43.69 percent, had threatened to boycott the runoff after accusing the leadership of the national election commission of bias towards Conde.

Conde polled 18.25 percent, a result he says was artifically low because he was wrongly deprived of some votes.

Earlier, campaigning for the October 24 poll restarted quietly, with little political activity on the streets of the capital Conakry.

Guinea is home to major bauxite mining operations, and is being courted by mining firms from Asia, Europe and elsewhere for its deposits of iron ore.

The election is intended to return Guinea to civilian rule and, if it passes off smoothly, will be its first properly democratic election since 1958 independence from France.

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