Guinea halts presidential run-off

Guinea has halted Sunday`s presidential run-off after days of violence, as the military ruler called for fresh regional mediation to prevent the country heading for a "dead end.

Last Updated: Sep 17, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Conakry: Guinea has halted Sunday`s
presidential run-off after days of violence, as the military
ruler called for fresh regional mediation to prevent the
country heading for a "dead end."

In a solemn televised address to the nation,
transitional leader General Sekouba Konate said the West
African country risked a "grave political and social crisis"
and urged the regional mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise
Compaore, to intervene.

He urged Compaore to meet with the two candidates and
politicians, adding: "More and more we are moving away from
our roadmap. I note with regret... that our country is heading
for a dead end.

"Guinea no longer has a margin for error and has no
time to lose," the general said.

The African Union reacted to the delay today by
pressing the interim government to forge ahead with a second
round of the presidential poll.

AU commission chief Jean Ping "reminds the interim
government that the AU is attached to the principle of the
second round of the presidential election being held swiftly,"
he said in a statement.

Ping urged Konate to "successfully complete the
transition (and) persevere in his determination to complete
the return to constitutional order".

Konate`s address came hard on the heels of an
announcement by the electoral commission late yesterday that
it had postponed Sunday`s run-off.

"We need two weeks to prepare well," said Independent
National Electoral Commission (CENI) spokesman Thierno Ceydou
Bayo.

Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore called in the two
candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, before the
announcement was made.

Bayo said Dore`s government would decide the new date
for the poll.

In Burkina Faso, a source close to Compaore said "the
mediator is going to wait for the two protagonists (Conde and
Diallo) to speak out. If they`re agreed, they will come" to
Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital.

Compaore was also prepared to fly to Conakry, another
source said.

Preparations for the second round have been marred by
violence and the government suspended campaigning after rival
supporters clashed in Conakry last weekend, killing one person
and injuring around 50.

PTI