Voting in Guinea’s presidential elections was reported calm today following a weekend of pre-poll clashes in the capital, Conakry, a diplomatic source told IRIN. He said voters had been queuing to cast their ballots since the polling booths opened at 8 a.m. in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. The source added that joint military-police units were patrolling various neighbourhoods in Conakry to ensure law and order. He added that by early afternoon no violent incidents had been reported in the capital or interior of the country.
An official of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in Conakry told IRIN today that 125 Guinean Red Cross volunteers who had monitored the voting confirmed that election day went smoothly with no incidents to report.
The government announced on Saturday the closure of all land borders, airports, and seaports, while armed soldiers took up positions in Conakry. It also announced measures to defuse tension by allowing people on the electoral list who were not issued registration cards to vote if they had the required identity papers. Reuters said the issue of voter cards was the most contentious of the campaign. The opposition called last week for the vote to be put back, saying that less than half the voters had received cards.
Meanwhile, Guineans residing in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, were able to cast their vote, a Guinean diplomatic source told IRIN today. An estimated one million Guineans live in Cote d’Ivoire. According to AFP, most Guineans living outside the country tend to support the opposition.
The incumbent, President Lansana Conte of the Parti pour l’Union et le Progres (PUP), is seeking a new-five year mandate against four other candidates: Alpha Conde, leader of the Rassemblement du peuple de Guinee (RPG); Mamadou Ba of the Union pour le progres et le renouveau (UPR);
Jean-Marie Dore of the Union pour la prosperite de la Guinee (UPG) and Charles Pascal Tolno, leader of the Parti du peuple de Guinee (PPG).