Guinea\’s opposition leader Saturday called for demonstrations against the "serious denial of democracy" in the first round of presidential elections won by incumbent Alpha Conde.
Conde\’s main rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, said he would not resort to the west African country\’s constitutional court to protest what he labelled an "illegal" election, allegedly tainted by widespread fraud and mismanagement. Instead, he would ask supporters to take to the streets.
"I will invite, at the appropriate time, other candidates and all citizens who are the true victims of this electoral hold-up to organise, conforming to the law, peaceful demonstrations to express our indignation and protest against this serious denial of democracy," said Diallo in a statement read to the media.
Reading a list of alleged irregularities, he said the six other candidates for president have all decided not to recognise the results of the first round on October 11.
"I confirm my total agreement with this decision. Furthermore, I will not take recourse at the constitutional court," he said.
The opposition\’s response has raised the spectre of unrest in the coming days. Guinea has a history of post-election violence, prompting the international community to call on all parties to pursue their grievances through the courts rather than protests.
Results published by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday showed Conde winning an outright majority with nearly 2.3 million votes, or 57.8 percent. He is expected to be officially declared the winner later on Saturday.
Diallo had garnered around 1.24 million ballots or 31.5 percent. Turnout was put at around 68 percent of the six million eligible voters, well below an initial estimate of 75 percent.
The election was only the second democratic presidential poll since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958.
Conde, 77, had gone into the campaign promising to deliver a "KO blow" to his opponents by winning in the first round and avoiding a run-off against his closest rival.
Conde\’s spokesman Albert Damantang Camara condemned Diallo\’s call for protests, saying "there has never been a peaceful demonstration in Guinea".
"Asking people to come out into the streets risks dragging the country into instability, chaos and violence," Camara told AFP.
"We continue to ask our supporters to stay calm, avoid gloating and get ready to face the numerous challenges that await us."
Guinea\’s first ever democratic election in 2010 went to a second round between Conde and former prime minister Diallo, which Conde narrowly won.
Unlike after that vote, Diallo shows no sign of grudgingly conceding defeat in this year\’s election.
"When the president (of the electoral commission) decides that anyone holding an electoral card can vote, even without an envelope in violation of the electoral code, it shows the illegal way in which the election has taken place," Diallo said.
The 63-year-old and the six other opposition candidates have all demanded a re-run and warned a proclamation of victory by Conde at the first round would vindicate their suspicions of vote-rigging.
The election has increased tensions in the country, with around a dozen people killed in clashes between Conde and Diallo supporters ahead of polling day.
An EU election observer team criticised the electoral commission for poor organisation and a "lack of preparation".