Guinea votes for the presidency, President Alpha Condé 82, for a third term

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Guinea votes for the presidency, President Alpha Condé 82, for a third term

Voters in Guinea are voting in a controversial election that sees President Alpha Condé, 82, running for a third term.

The day started with heavy rains but as soon as it stopped long queues started to form outside the polling stations.

Mr Condé ignored criticism for pushing for a constitutional change that allowed him to extend his term.

Its main challenger is Cellou Dalein Diallo, whom he beat twice.

Ethnic clashes during the campaign have raised fears of nationwide violence if the results are contested.

The government has closed borders with some neighboring countries, citing security reasons.

Some 5,4 million voters are eligible to vote. The results are not expected for several days.

Candidates need over 50% of the vote for an outright victory, or there will be a run-off on November 24.

Ten other candidates are also in the running, while some opposition groups have called for the boycott.

The fears of military divisions

Guinea has been plagued by an authoritarian and military regime since its independence. There were fears that the military could get involved in politics again.

media legendCandidates and their supporters in the Guinean presidential election had to campaign during the Covid-19.

On Friday, the defense minister released a statement saying a group of soldiers entered a military camp in Kindia, a town 130 km east of the capital Conakry, and killed its commander, Col Mamady Condé.

There were reports of an army mutiny, but authorities later said they were in control and a search was underway to locate the soldiers.

Five things about Guinea:

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  • Independence leader Sékou Touré declared to France in 1958: "Guinea prefers poverty in freedom to wealth in slavery"
  • "Black power" civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael left the United States for Guinea in 1968 with his then-wife singer Miriam Makeba becoming a lifelong supporter of Pan-Africanism
  • It has the largest reserves of bauxite in the world - the main source of aluminum
  • Its Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is known for its viviparous toad and chimpanzees that use stones as tools
  • Singer Mory Kanté, famous for the hit Yéké Yéké from the 80s, comes from a family of well-known Guinean griots, or singers of praise

Who is Alpha Condé?

Mr. Condé was a veteran of the opposition who finally won the elections in 2010, marking the first truly democratic transfer to Guinea since independence.

A supporter of the current president and presidential candidate, Guinean President Alpha CondéCOPYRIGHT OF IMAGEAFP
legendSupporters of Mr. Condé hope he can revive the Guinean economy

He served a prison sentence for challenging the general Lansana Conté, who reigned from 1984 until his death in 2008.

He campaigned on his economic record and the prospects that Simandou, one of the world's largest untapped iron ore deposits, could finally be mined - creating thousands of jobs.

But critics say not all economic growth has spilled over to the bulk of the population. Power cuts are frequent and many young Guineans are unable to find work.

A new constitution was approved in a referendum in March. Mr Condé argues that this means he is allowed to seek re-election, even though he had already served the maximum of two terms allowed by the previous constitution.

The opposition disputes this and street protests have claimed dozens of lives over the past year.

Who is its main challenger?

Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68, former Prime Minister, is the only formidable opponent. He lost to Mr Condé in 2010 and 2015, although he claims both elections were marred by fraud generalized.

legendMr Diallo hopes he will be lucky for the third time in his presidential bid

He is a member of the Fulani or Fulani community. Despite being Guinea's largest ethnic group, the country has never had a Fulani president, and many ethnic Fulani say they have experienced discrimination, dating back to the days of President Sékou Touré, when thousands of ethnic Fulani people fled the country.

Mr. Condé is widely supported by members of his Malinké community, as well as by the country's third major ethnic group, the Soussous.

Mr. Diallo and other opposition figures from the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) had vowed to boycott an election which, in their opinion, could never be fair.

But in early September, Mr. Diallo broke with the FNDC, announcing he would run after all.

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