Polls open in Guinea election

7th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Guineans began casting their votes Sunday in a long-delayed presidential run-off to choose the country's first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.

The long-delayed presidential run-off pits former prime minister and poll favourite Cellou Dalein Diallo against academic and veteran opposition politician Alpha Conde.

Polling stations opened shortly after 0700 GMT with voters in the capital Conakry waiting patiently in line.

"Everybody is in a hurry to finish with the old system, money being stolen to benefit a few, the waste," said retired doctor Saidou Cisse, 67 at a voting station at a seaside school.

Cisse said he arrived one hour before the start of voting on "this very special day".

Under pressure from the international community the two candidates - who come from two ethnic majorities, the Fulani and Mandinke - made a joint call for calm on Friday after a campaign marked by violence between rival camps.

Rival supporters have accused each other of planning fraud and disruptions to the vote while rumours stoked ethnic tensions, leading to violent clashes which saw some 2,000 people flee their homes in parts of the country.

On the eve of the highly anticipated vote, interim president General Sekouba Konate reaffirmed that the military would leave power at the end of the electoral process.

He called for a "break with a violent past" and human rights violations.

All the country's borders were closed on Sunday and general traffic is forbidden between 06h00 and midnight.

© 2010 AFP

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