October 25, 2010 / 1:56 PM / 9 years ago

Guinea tightens security as awaits new vote date

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea deployed extra security forces to parts of the capital Conakry on Monday after a weekend of looting and rioting fuelled by an open-ended delay to its presidential run-off election.

Presidential candidate Alpha Conde (L), leader of Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinea (RPG), talks to former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo of "l Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée" (UFDG) during a meeting between political parties at the palace Sekhoutoureyah June 26, 2010. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Authorities were due to discuss a new date for the poll, meant to transfer power from a military junta to civilians in the West African former French colony and close the book on decades of harsh authoritarian rule.

Extra forces were stationed in Conakry’s Madina Market neighbourhood, a flashpoint of recent ethnically driven clashes, and rival presidential candidates from the main ethnic groups urged supporters to keep calm.

“For the moment, all the stores are closed in Madina,” said technician Oumar Camara. “The banks are also closed, and security forces are sitting in front of them.”

Elsewhere in Conakry, a ramshackle seaside town in the world’s top bauxite-exporting nation, residents went about their business and traffic jams again clogged the roads.

The election was postponed on Friday just two days before it was meant to be held, after the head of the electoral body told reporters voting preparations were “deplorable”.

It was the third delay to the run-off since the initial target date of September 19.

“We’re meeting midday and it is possible we’ll talk about the date,” said election commission spokesman Foumba Kourouma.

The first-round election in June passed off relatively smoothly, though tensions and political infighting began to rise after the result pitted candidates from the country’s two biggest ethnic groups against each other.

General Siaka Toumany Sangare, a Malian, took the top spot in the electoral commission last week after one of the candidates, former Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo, accused his predecessor of bias.

Both Diallo and his rival, veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, have said they support Sangare.

Guinea’s rich minerals deposits have attracted billions of dollars in planned investments from companies like Rio Tinto and Vale.

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