Guinea’s New President is Named

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Guinea’s Supreme Court has ruled Alpha Conde the winner of a November 7 presidential runoff election, the court’s president announced Friday in the country’s capital city.

The ruling wraps up a two-year transition to civilian rule after a military junta took power in December 2008. Provisional results that had been released by the west African country’s electoral commission on November 15 put Conde ahead of his rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, with 52.5 percent of the vote.

The Supreme Court took two weeks deliberating fraud charges from both sides before upholding the provisional results of what has been viewed as Guinea’s most democratic and transparent election in its 52-year history.

“Mister Alpha Conde, having obtained 52.52 percent of ballots cast, is elected President of the Republic of Guinea,” Mamadou Sylla, president of the Supreme Court announced to reporters at the Supreme Court office in Conakry shortly after midnight.

Upon announcement, representatives from Conde’s party rejoiced and cheered their victory but expressed their desire to repair the damages of a polarizing campaign marred by violence and intimidation.

“We ask all Guineans to lend a hand so that together…we can participate in the moral, physical, institutional and political reconstruction of our country,” Kiridi Bangoura, Conde’s campaign director told reporters.

Diallo, who had previously rejected the results–alleging the election was riddled with fraud that prevented his victory–took on a more conciliatory tone after the verdict.

“Since the Supreme Court decision allows for no appeals, we can only accept the verdict given by the highest judiciary institution of the republic,” Diallo told reporters at his home on Friday.

The provisional results were met by riots and violence around the country.

The prime minister subsequently declared a national state of emergency to deal with the violence.

Analysts are worried about the potential of violence in Guinea spreading to neighboring Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast, all of which are recovering from civil wars. Fighting broke out in the eastern Sierra Leone town of Kenema between Peul and Malinke after the Guinea election results were announced.

“Sierra Leone and Guinea are only divided by what you call colonial boundaries between us. Most of the major ethnic tribes here you find in Sierra Leone also,” Adikalie Foday Sumah, ambassador of Sierra Leone to Guinea told CNN recently, adding that ethnic tensions can easily spread across porous borders.

The court decision on the election — which was deemed “credible and transparent” by European Union representatives — surprised few in Guinea’s sprawling seaside capital.

The new president–a 72-year old former lecturer at Sorbonne University in Paris–will face immense challenges ranging from creating employment to reforming the notoriously corrupt and abusive army in a country sharply divided along ethnic lines.

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