CONAKRY (Reuters) - Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde has sharply narrowed the gap with Guinea presidential front-runner Cellou Dalein Diallo, according to a Reuters tally of partial official results from a November 7 election.
Diallo’s camp on Sunday said the poll, meant to end nearly two years of military rule in the world’s top bauxite exporter, was marred by fraud and that it had stopped assisting in the process of certifying results.
“We have suspended our participation in the process of counting the votes,” Abdoulaye Diallo, a senior official in Diallo’s UFDG party told journalists earlier in Conakry.
Diallo held 50.6 percent to Conde’s 49.4 percent, according to figures released by the electoral commission, the latest batch of which was announced on Sunday night.
International observers have said the poll, meant to end nearly two years of military rule in the West African country, appeared free and fair, but there are fears of violence after the final result is announced.
State television announced on Sunday evening that the government had banned all political demonstrations and instructed election security forces to arrest anyone caught violating the ban.
Diallo, a former prime minister, has held the lead since results started being released, but his advantage has tightened steadily as returns from several Conde strongholds were published and observers said the remaining districts could put him in the lead.
Diallo took nearly 44 percent of the first round vote in June and then forged an alliance with third-placed finisher Sidya Toure, making him favourite for the run-off.
But tallies from a number of Toure strongholds suggest his followers did not heed his call to back Diallo.
A peaceful first round was followed by weeks of rows over results and over the leadership of the election commission. There were street clashes between Diallo’s mainly Peul supporters and Conde’s predominantly Malinke backers.
Guinea has never had a president from the Peul community, although it is the country’s largest ethnic group.
RADDHO, a pan-African rights group, on Sunday flagged mounting tensions and called on neighbouring Mali and Senegal, in collaboration with Burkina Faso, a mediator in Guinea’s conflict, to hold talks with the candidates to ease tensions.
“This situation and the extreme pressure exerted on the (election commission) by all sides risk creating confusion, if not trouble and chaos, in the country if the international and African community does not take action ..,” RADDHO said.
Election security forces in riot gear were seen deploying in the capital on Sunday afternoon.
Guinea has endured decades of authoritarian rule since independence from France in 1958, but a peaceful and accepted election would also provide a boost for a region seeking investors and keen to put years of wars and political instability behind it.
A final tally of results is expected on Monday.
“If the full results are given, we will not accept it,” said Ibrahim Bare, one of Diallo’s supporters.
“Because of the fraud,” he said, when asked why. “It is victory or death.”