Guinean parties sign accords to prepare June vote
A score of Guinean politicians and leaders of civil society on Friday signed in Rome an appeal for their country's future which deals with the process leading to elections next month.
The 22 members of the National Transitional Council (CNT, or parliament), the three political forces, trade unions and employers also signed a Global Political Accord, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.
These documents were drafted and agreed upon during a week of discussions under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio Community, which has a strong record as a peacemaker in African conflicts.
"We're returning to our country with two important documents ... after having worked with a single objective in mind: peace and national unity," said the head of the Guinean delegation, CNT vice-president El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Sylla, told journalists.
"We're optimistic about the presidential election" scheduled for June 27, "because Guineans are thirsty for democracy," Sylla said, and he expressed gratitude for "the big role played by French diplomacy."
More than 4.3 million voters will be called out on June 27 to elect their president in the first democratic poll since the independence of Guinea in 1958.
The west African country was long ruled by the autocratic General Lansana Conte, who came to power in a coup, and within hours of his death in December 2008, the army took over and Captain Moussa Dadis Camara became head of state.
But Guinea is now being ruled by General Sekouba Konate, who was influential behind the scenes in the 2008 coup and became defence minister under Camara, who was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination bid in December 2009.
Konate announced on Guinean television on Thursday night that he backed no candidate in the presidential poll, and reiterated that he was not a candidate himself.
"I am not a candidate. I don't have a candidate to present nor to have elected in my name.... It is a choice and a firm commitment that I share with those close to me, and far," Konate said.
"On my honour I declare that we are neither concerned by the political competition nor engaged in the electoral race. Until the end of the process there will still be a transition under way.
"It is Guineans and they alone who go into the privacy of the voting booth and make the conscious choice of the next president of the Republic of Guinea," he said.
He made this declaration to end "unfounded rumours" that could mar the results of the June 27 ballot.
The Guinean media recently reported that Alpha Conde, candidate for the main opposition Rally of Guinean People (RPG), was Konate's preferred candidate "on the instruction of France".
Conde is one of 24 candidates running for the presidency along with former prime ministers Cellou Dalein Diallo, Francois Lonseny Fall, Lansana Kouyate and Sidya Toure.
The "Appeal for the Future of Guinea" agreed in Rome sets out rules for a "peaceful, regular, open and fair electoral process," in which the signatories foreswore "all forms of violence of whatever nature they may" and pledged not to engage in propaganda that would incite violence and hatred.
"We're here to support the transition that will lead Guinea towards a democratic and peaceful future... so that nobody is excluded from the democratic process," said Mario Giro, foreign relations chief of the Sant'Egidio community.
The community has been present in Guinea since the 1990s.
© 2010 AFP