By Jesse Riseborough and Pauline Bax
Guinea’s leading opposition politician, Cellou Dalein Diallo, said the country’s stability will hinge on the transparency of a 2015 presidential election, in which he plans to run against President Alpha Conde.
The head of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea said in a May 2 interview in London that he has enough support to win the vote and warned that any attempt to rig the ballot may result in violence. Diallo challenged the outcome of the 2010 presidential election in court and also rejected the results of a legislative ballot last year.
“If the elections are not transparent, there won’t be any peace and stability in Guinea,” he said through an interpreter, adding that his supporters accepted the results of the 2010 election, which they say were flawed. “In 2015, my electorate will not accept that, even if I ask them to. They will kill me and claim their victory. This is how it is in politics.”
The 2010 election was hailed as the first democratic transfer of power in Guinea since it gained independence from France in 1958. The country, where more than half the population of 10 million lives below the poverty line, is the world’s biggest exporter of bauxite, used to make aluminum.
Diallo has repeatedly accused Conde of rigging the second round of the 2010 election, which was delayed twice after Diallo received the most votes -- 44 percent -- in the first round. Conde, who won 18 percent of the vote in the first round and 53 percent in the second, has rejected the allegations.
“We can guarantee the political parties that the 2015 presidential elections will be transparent,” Minister of Communication, Alhoussein Makanera Kake, said by phone on May 2. “It doesn’t make sense when Cellou Dalein Diallo says the presidential elections will be rigged by those in power. Guineans have other things to worry about than listening to threats of destabilization or unrest.”
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said last year that Conde’s government showed contempt for the opposition by refusing to engage in dialogue. Political disagreement over the electoral process has sparked regular outbreaks of violence between opposition members and Conde supporters since 2011, most often in the capital, Conakry.
“We are organizing ourselves to request that the conditions for a free and fair election to be put in place,” Diallo said. “We have already started seeing some difficulties with President Conde because he doesn’t want that.”
Diallo draws support from the Peul, one of two main ethnic groups in the country, alongside the Malinke. He has accused Conde, a Malinke, of ethnic favoritism and using the security forces against the Peul.
The government’s review of mining licenses, which last month resulted in Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE:US), the biggest iron ore exporter, and billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s mining company being stripped of mineral rights, has deterred investors, Diallo said.
“We encourage any revision that can benefit Guinea and the Guinean people, but we shouldn’t scare away investors,” he said. “We need to find a win-win situation where the Guinean people will benefit from it, but also the investors would benefit from it.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Jesse Riseborough in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Pauline Bax in Accra at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Viljoen at firstname.lastname@example.org Andres R. Martinez, Paul Richardson