Guinea Starts Counting Ballots as Opposition Cites Issues

  • Election was only second democratic vote since 1958 for Guinea
  • EU observers say early signs elections was credible, fair

Guinea started counting votes in Sunday’s presidential election, which the opposition has said was marred by irregularities.

European Union observers said there were some delays opening polling stations. Overall, though, the voting progressed in a credible way, Frank Engel, the European Union’s chief observer, told reporters on Sunday. The opposition said on Saturday it would probably refuse to accept the results.

The first tally of votes will be released as early as Thursday, the electoral commission said. Voting was extended by two hours to accommodate voters at precincts that opened late. Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite.

“The electoral commission probably was less ready than what it asserted,” Engel said. “I have the impression at this moment that what we saw, observed and which was indicated to us does not smear the regularity of the vote.”

President Alpha Conde faced off against seven candidates in only the second democratic vote since 1958. There were no reports of violence on Sunday, after clashes earlier in the week between supporters of Conde and the opposition that left at least three dead.

The nation is trying to restore economic growth after the worst outbreak of Ebola and low metal prices stalled progress in the $6.5 billion economy. Conde will probably win the election in a second-round of voting scheduled later this year, according to Eurasia Group and other analysts. He has boosted the supply of electricity and removed the military from politics, cementing the nation’s progress from dictatorship to democracy.

United Nations data shows that 43 percent of the population still lives on less than $1.25 a day and one in 10 children die before their fifth birthday.

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