Guinea’s main opposition party will do everything in its power to derail parliamentary elections planned for the end of this year, its leader Cellou Dalein Diallo told Reuters, saying he believed the vote would be rigged if it went ahead.
Tensions in the minerals-rich West African state risk boiling over ahead of polls, which are meant to complete a transition to democracy after two years under a military junta, and pave the way for new aid and investment, Reuters reports.
“We will use all legal means to oppose the holding of a mock election,” Diallo said in an interview late on Tuesday, adding he would ask his supporters to take to the streets in protest. “We will not wait until the results are announced to contest them.”
President Alpha Conde was narrowly elected in November 2010 in Guinea’s first free vote since independence from France, and Diallo accepted defeat after several of his supporters were killed in riots.
Diallo has since ramped up his criticism of Conde’s leadership in a move that is likely to further deepen ethnic and regional divisions, and which risks sparking renewed street violence ahead of the legislative vote.
The European Union has said it will only resume full cooperation with Guinea after the polls are organised, potentially unblocking aid worth millions of dollars for an impoverished country with crumbling infrastructure.
Stability is also seen as key to billions of dollars of planned investments in Guinea’s burgeoning iron ore sector by companies such as Rio Tinto and Vale. Guinea is already the world’s top bauxite exporter.
Adding strain between the political rivals, Conde has accused a senior member of Diallo’s UFDG party of having planned a rocket and gun attack on his residence in July and said the governments of Senegal and Gambia were also complicit — a charge both governments have denied.
Diallo’s UFDG party has complained that the government’s plan to revamp Guinea’s voter lists ahead of the parliamentary poll is unconstitutional and any new census should be decided instead by the independent electoral commission.
UFDG officials say they fear Conde’s government will tamper with the lists in order to increase their chances of a majority in parliament. But Conde’s government has dismissed the objection, and has said it plans to push ahead with preparations for the vote set for the end of this year.
“The government continues to act out of arrogance, without consideration for the political class, without taking on our advice. These people want to organise the elections outside the electoral code, in violation of the constitution,” Diallo said.
“We will oppose (this) by all means, using all methods provided by the constitution. We will organise public demonstrations,” he said.
Diallo said he was dismayed by Conde’s accusation that a UFDG official, Oury Bah, was a chief planner of the July attack on Conde’s residence. Guinea authorities arrested 39 people, including 26 army officers, after the attack, which failed to kill Conde because he had chosen to sleep in another room.
“It is really unfortunate for the country, because we were supposed to be making a fresh start in a nation of law where our efforts are directed at (…) improving governance and shoring up democracy,” Diallo said.
“We’re rowing upstream against all of these values.”