Guinea electoral roll unfair, opposition says ahead of poll

Guinea’s election authority published voter registration data on Monday, but opponents quickly highlighted anomalies that would appear to benefit President Alpha Conde in next month’s presidential election.

The credibility of Guinea’s electoral roll is a recurring issue in the West African state, and was a key concern among international observers during a controversial constitutional referendum in the country this year.

Some 5.4 million voters appear on the roll in the nation of 13 million people, according to statistics that officials from Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission presented at a press conference Monday.

But opponents are skeptical of the regional distribution of voters, pointing to a spike in the number of voters in the Conde stronghold of Kankan, in the east of the country. 

Kankan has about 1.2 million registered voters, the electoral commission said, comprising about 22 percent of the total number of voters. 

The northern Labe region —  a stronghold of presidential contender Cellou Dalein Diallo — has about 8 percent of the total number of voters registered on the electoral roll. 

“Regional disparities are raising questions,” said Aliou Conde, a member of Diallo’s UFDG party. 

He pointed to the Kankan town of Mandiana, where there are currently about 200,000 registered voters compared to 84,000 in 2010. 

“They have to tell us where these voters came from,” Aliou Conde said.

Souleymane Keita, an MP for President Alpha Conde’s RPG party, said that “strong migration” to regions rich in gold and diamonds explained the increase.

In March, President Conde pushed through a revamped constitution, which critics argued was designed to allow him to get around a two-term limit for presidents.

Protests against that possibility erupted in October last year but were met with a ruthless crackdown, and several dozen people died.

Conde, 82, confirmed earlier this month that he is standing for a third term on October 18. There are 12 candidates in total.

Ahead of the poll, the Economic Community of West African States sent three experts to Guinea on September 7 to help draw up the electoral roll.

They are due to file a report to the West Africa bloc, an official with knowledge of their work told AFP.