CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's political opposition demanded Friday the results from last weekend's legislative election be invalidated, vowing to protest in the streets if their concerns about fraud and irregularities are not addressed.
The announcement by opposition leader Sidya Toure raised fears about whether the election will remain peaceful as previous demonstrations before the vote had turned deadly. "If this demand to invalidate the results is not taken into consideration, the Guinean opposition will be forced to resort to all legal forms of protest including public demonstrations," said fellow opposition leader Aboubacar Sylla.
Supporters of the president's ruling party immediately later organized their own news conference, where they alleged that hard-line opposition members also had committed acts of fraud. "We are asking for the public to take responsibility and preserve peace in this country," spokesman Moustapha Naite said. "We've had enough of the intimidation and making people live in fear."
Guinea's opposition initially had sought a one-month delay of the highly contested vote, citing irregularities with voter lists at polling stations that they did not believe could be resolved by last Saturday's vote. Within hours of the polls closing, the opposition began charging incidents of alleged irregularities and fraud.
The government's ruling party has denied the accusations of vote-rigging, and President Alpha Conde has called on the country to accept the results of the vote. Tensions, though, have grown amid delays of vote counting and the opposition alleges that tallies are being changed while the ballots are transported to the capital of Conakry. Under the constitution, results had been expected within 72 hours. However, authorities later said that the 72-hour window would not start until it had received all the voting materials.
Guinea suffered decades of dictatorship and strongman rule, and did not hold a democratic presidential election until 2010 — more than a half-century after independence from France. However, disputes have led to repeated delays over the legislative vote, leaving the country without a functioning parliament.
U.N. special envoy Said Djinnit, who brokered more than a dozen meetings between the two sides ahead of the vote, has urged Guinea's electoral commission to release provisional results as soon as possible.
Djinnit "encourages the political parties to respect the outcome of the polls and, if need be, to use legal means for a solution to any contentious issues ensuing from the elections."