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Jeffrey Dvorkin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guinea: Voting Postponed. Democracy Denied

To update: the interim government in Guinea in West Africa has postponed the runoff election for president, previously scheduled for September 19. No date has been announced for the next round.* **

Although I'm not surprised, I am disappointed and I am sure that many Guinéens are as well. When I was in Conakry in June, people expressed such powerful hopes that the years of repression and dictatorship were about to end. The first round of voting happened peacefully and with a remarkable 80% turnout. The two remaining candidates vying for the ballot: Cellou Dalein Diallo who in the first round, on June 27, obtained 43.69% of the vote, and Alpha Condé, won 18.25% of the votes.

Not so in the lead up to September 19th: a number of people were killed in pre-voting violence.

The interim president Jean-Marie Doré decided to cancel the vote because as he claimed, not everyone in Guinea had received a ballot.

Hopefully, pressure from the European Union, and especially from France and the United States will help to set a new timetable.

But present day role of western powers can't undo the years of repression that has resulted in weak governance and an anti-democratic impulse. As one commentator noted, Africa doesn't need strong men; it needs strong institutions.

In Guinea, I saw that democracy appeared possible. That hope is still there, I'm sure.
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*This just in: the next round of voting has been scheduled for October 19th.
** Another delay until November 9th. Reports of violence between groups resulted in the recent postponement.

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