Guinea's parliamentary opposition has announced it will withdraw from the national assembly in protest at last month’s municipal elections, which it says was nothing short of “electoral robbery.”
The Union of Progress and Renewal (UPR) is the only opposition party represented in parliament, holding 20 of 114 seats. Remaining posts belong to politicians allied with or members of the ruling Party for Unity and Progress of president Lansana Conte, who has held power for 21 years.
"Without going back over how the polls were organised and held, I would like to say again that there were no elections in Guinea on 18 December, [but] rather an electoral robbery during the entire process," UPR executive secretary Yaya Keita said in a statement.
The UPR, founded by now-deceased journalist Siradiou Diallo, was the only opposition party to take part in legislative elections in 2002. All other opposition parties boycotted the poll.
But after pressure from the international community not to sit on the sidelines, all opposition parties decided to participate in December’s municipal elections. Donors have suspended financial aid to Guinea over concerns of corruption and poor governance.
The local polls were seen as a test of a fledgling reform programme of Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo. However, many Guineans said they would not vote because they had lost confidence in democratic reform and opposition leaders lobbed charges of rigging even before a single ballot was cast.
Results showed the ruling party sweeping the polls, with 31 of 38 urban seats and 241 of 303 rural posts. The UPR last week called for an annulment of the elections.