DAKAR (Reuters) - Guinea’s veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde has turned around a poor first-round performance to defeat favorite Cellou Dalein Diallo and win a run-off for the presidency of the West African county.
With tension running high and some outbreaks of violence before the provisional results were announced Monday, all eyes will now focus on whether and how Diallo challenges the results.
International and regional pressure on him to confine his challenge to legal means and accept defeat gracefully will be intense, but so will be the frustration of many of his supporters, meaning the risk of violence will be high.
Guinea is rich in iron or and bauxite and its mineral wealth has attracted billions of dollars in planned investment from companies such as Rio Tinto and Vale.
Below are some factors to watch.
A CHALLENGE IN COURT?
Diallo, a former prime minister, has already challenged some of the results in the vote-counting process, from which he withdrew Sunday in protest against fraud.
Several of his complaints were rejected by the election commission, but they can be taken to Guinea’s Supreme Court, which must now sign off the results to confirm Conde’s win.
Diallo has said he believes as many as 800,000 votes cast by Guinea’s roughly 4.3 million registered voters have been tainted by fraud and intimidation.
Immediately after the results, the United Nations added its weight to pressure on the loser to challenge the results in the courts, rather than on the streets.
CHALLENGE ON THE STREETS?
However, that cannot be guaranteed.
Having won nearly 44 percent of the first round vote in June and then forging an alliance with third-placed finisher Sidya Toure, Diallo went into the second round as a favorite.
Toure’s voters appeared to have ignored his calls to vote for Diallo, who is from the Peul community which has never had a president although it is Guinea’s largest ethnic group.
In sporadic violence during vote counting, angry Peul threatened not to accept defeat. It remains to be seen whether Diallo can control the streets, even if challenges the results in court.
Corinne Dufka, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in West Africa, said she had reports Monday that one person had been killed and at least 20 injured in violence.
If there is further violence, pressure will be on the security forces not to repeat abuses seen in the past, such as in September 2008, when more than 150 civilians were killed during a pro-democracy march.
“The military commanders need to immediately rein (the security forces) in and fulfil their responsibility to protect the life of all Guineans,” Dufka said.
A UNITY GOVERNMENT?
In theory, both candidates sought to defuse tension before the second round took place by promising last month to include each other in government, whoever won the election.
However, the two camps have had heated clashes since the agreement and it remains to be seen if it still holds.
In any case, as seen in previous post-election crises such as those in Kenya and Zimbabwe, agreements of this type can take weeks, if not months, to be concluded, meaning a period of uncertainty is likely.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis
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