U.N. mediator sees breakthrough in Guinea election talks


The Guinean government and opposition parties in the West African nation have made a breakthrough during talks that could end a violent political impasse and pave the way for legislative elections, a United Nations envoy said.

President Alpha Conde’s government and Guinea’s opposition parties are locked in a United Nations-mediated talk over the organization of a long-delayed legislative election.

More than 50 people have been killed in three months of rallies by activists who accuse Conde of preparing to rig the poll, scheduled for June 30, in the world’s largest bauxite exporter, Reuters reports.

Said Djinnit, a U.N. envoy mediating the talks between government and opposition in the coastal capital of Conakry, said the parties have made significant progress over their demands and there were reasons for hope.

Djinnit said in return for some guarantees, Guinea’s opposition parties have agreed to rejoin the electoral process, dropping a demand that South African company Waymark, charged with updating the voter register, be replaced.

The opposition accused the company of stuffing the electoral roll with the names of Conde’s ethnic Malinke supporters, charges the company denied.

The opposition had also called for Guineans living overseas to be allowed to vote.
“Regarding the vote of Guineans abroad, the presidential camp, which had reservations on the issue, have lifted their opposition. It was agreed that Guineans living abroad could participate in elections,” Djinnit said.

Decisions from the talks, if concluded, could affect the date of the election, he said.

Guinea’s government was not immediately available for comment, but a spokesman for the opposition told Reuters that a minimum consensus had been reached and they were waiting for concrete actions from the government and Guinea’s electoral commission.
“We have reasons to be cautiously optimistic,” said opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla.

Political instability in Guinea following a military coup in December 2008 has deterred some investors, despite the country’s large deposits of iron ore, bauxite, gold and other minerals.