France ready to help Guinea stage post-coup polls

4th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

France has already pledged EUR 2.2 million in aid for elections and could add another EUR 800,000 to help the Guinean military junta holds a presidential election.

Conakry – France has announced it will step up financial aid to Guinea if the west African country's military junta holds a presidential election by the end of the year.

The junior minister for cooperation, Alain Joyandet, who paid a brief visit to Conakry on Monday, said that France had currently pledged EUR 2.2 million in aid for elections and could add EUR 800,000.

During his stay, Joyandet had talks with junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and with politicians, trade union leaders and representatives of civil society.

Diplomatic sources said that the junta, which came to power in a bloodless coup hours after president Lansana Conte died in December 2009, asked for strong French support, and that Joyandet replied: "Keep your commitments for a vote by the end of 2009 and without standing for office."

The French official also reportedly urged other parties to "remain united" in working for an election and suggested that Guineans invite international observers.

"The later the elections are, the more civil peace is threatened," Joyandet said.

Camara, who works out of a military barracks in suburban Conakry, on Monday gave a further public assurance that he "won't stay in power eternally".

"I'm not a man greedy for power," he said in a room full of armed soldiers and with large portraits of himself on the walls. Camara gave a long speech, stating that he had not staged a coup d'etat but stepped into a power vacuum.

General Conte had ruled the country largely unchallenged for 24 years.

Guineans are awaiting the announcement of a date for the polls, which will cost an estimated EUR 21 million, and expect the voting timetable to be unveiled in mid-August.

About 3.5 million voters have been registered in a potential electorate of six million, but some politicians and representatives of civil society contend that almost a million Guineans living abroad should be eligible to vote.

"At a given moment, you have to say, 'We're doing it,' otherwise you never do it," Joyandet observed. He stressed the importance of an "honest election" in the country of some nine million people, "even if it's not technically perfect".

Guinea is rich in mineral wealth, but remains one of the poorest nations in the world.

AFP / Expatica

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