Guinean president wins a 3rd term, electoral commission says

Guinean President Alpha Conde casts his ballot in Conakry, Guinea, Sunday Oct. 18, 2020. Guinean President Alpha Conde is seeking to extend his decade in power, facing off against his longtime rival Cellou Dalein Diallo for the third time at the polls. (AP Photo/Sadak Souici) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CONAKRY – Guinea's electoral commission on Saturday declared that President Alpha Conde had easily won a third term with 59% of the vote, setting the stage for potential clashes with the opposition whose candidate claimed victory days ago. The opposition quickly announced it would contest the results in court but offered no immediate evidence of fraud.

Some opposition supporters immediately went to the streets to protest after the announcement, while the opposition's statement accused Conde of trying to “impose an electoral coup” and called on the population “to mobilize to defend, by all legal means, the truth of the ballot boxes."

At least nine people had been killed, including children, amid unrest while the West African nation awaited the results over the past week.

Opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo earlier announced he was the rightful winner of the Oct. 18 election, asserting that he received 53% of the vote. But the National Independent Electoral Commission said he received only about 33%.

Guinea already had seen months of deadly political unrest after the 82-year-old Conde backed a constitutional referendum, approved by voters in March, that effectively allows him to serve two further five-year terms. The opposition boycotted the referendum.

“Today is a sad day for African democracy,” said Sally Bilaly Sow, a Guinean blogger and activist living abroad. The government should take into account the will of the people who have a desire for change, he said.

On Friday, internet and international calls were cut off across the country in anticipation of the election results, according to locals and international observers in the capital, Conakry.

This was the third time that Conde faced against Diallo in an election. Before the latest vote, observers raised concerns that any electoral dispute could reignite ethnic tensions between Guinea’s largest ethnic groups. The two main candidates drew support from the Malinke and the Peuhl, and previous match-ups have resulted in violence.