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Guinea earns UN plaudits after peaceful staging of presidential election

Guinea earns UN plaudits after peaceful staging of presidential election

Campaigning for the first round of presidential election in Guinea's capital Conakry in 27 June 2010
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended Guinea for the successful staging of presidential elections, widely regarded as the first democratic polls in the West African country since independence more than 50 years ago.

Twenty-four candidates took part in yesterday’s election, with a run-off round scheduled for next month if no single candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the overall votes.

“As Guinea awaits the results of the vote, the Secretary-General calls on all concerned to continue to respect their commitments to a peaceful process based on respect of the rule of law, and to accept the outcome,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

The Secretary-General commended Guinea’s Government, independent electoral commission, political parties and civil society groups, as well as the people as a whole, for the peaceful atmosphere prevalent during voting yesterday.

Guinea has been dominated by autocratic and military regimes since it gained independence in 1958, and the country remains mired in poverty and under-development.

In September last year, members of the military forces shot more than 150 unarmed demonstrators who had been participating in a peaceful pro-democracy protest on the streets of the capital, Conakry. Countless others were sexually assaulted or otherwise physically attacked.

International condemnation, including from senior United Nations officials, followed and a Government of national unity was established in January as part of a transition to a more democratic order.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, has been in Guinea as part of joint UN efforts with the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other members of the International Contact Group on Guinea to support the electoral process.