Guinea’s Supreme Court named long-time opposition campaigner Alpha Conde president throwing out complaints of electoral fraud by his rival, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo.
The November 7 run-off poll was Guinea’s first free vote since independence from France in 1958 and is meant to draw a line under almost two years of military rule in the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite.
“Mr Alpha Conde, candidate of the RPG party, having won a majority with 52.52 percent of votes cast, is elected president of the Republic of Guinea,” Court President Mamadou Sylla told a news conference, Reuters reports.
The Court sat through Thursday evening and announced its result in the early hours of Friday. No immediate reaction from either candidate was available, but Diallo’s campaign manager Fode Oussou Fofana appeared resigned to defeat.
“In the end it will be Guinea that wins,” he told reporters of the fact that the chaotic election process had come to end.
For Conde the final result is a dramatic turnaround of the first round of the vote in which Diallo took a commanding lead of around 44 percent to Conde’s 18 percent.
Yet it also underlined how much Guinean politics is driven by ethnicity. In the end Diallo was unable to extend his share of the vote much past the Peul community who make up around 40 percent of the population.
Those ethnic tensions spilled over into violence before and after the vote, with one human rights group saying 10 people had been killed and 215 others injured in clashes since provisional election results were announced last month.
Conde has offered to include Diallo’s allies in a government of national unity. It is hope the transition to civilian rule will provide legal certainty for billions of dollars of investment by mining firms in Guinea’s bauxite and iron ore riches.
A former assistant professor at the Sorbonne and a friend of former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Conde, 73, has prided himself in not having worked for any of the succession of strongarm rulers Guinea has seen since independence.
He also has weathered many storms as chief critic of past governments: exile and a death sentence under former dictator Sekou Toure, prison under General Lansana Conte, and insults under former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara.
But his ability to govern will come under scrutiny as he faces a number of tests ranging from reform of an unruly military to rebuilding an economy that has been devastated by years of mismanagement and corruption.
Reforming Guinea’s mining industry will be high on his list of priorities, and like Diallo he has signalled that existing contracts would be put to review.
Aside from being the world’s largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite — with about a third of the world’s known reserves — Guinea holds vast iron ore riches that have attracted billions of dollars in planned investments from companies such as Vale and Rio Tinto.