Guinea: Moving On to the Second Round Election

It's now official, the second round election for President of the Republic of Guinea will be held on September 19, 2010. The announcement comes as great news for the country and for proponents of democracy in Africa. Overall, there is good reason to be optimistic about Guinea's democratic transition and the important role that military leaders, politicians, political parties and civil society have played to get this far in the process.

It is expected that the race between the two final candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé, will mirror the first round of votes by being relatively free of violence, vote rigging and manipulation. Both the Diallo and Condé camps have formed coalitions with the third and fourth place finishers respectively, which is a welcome indicator that reconciliation among the political class has quickly taken shape. Based solely on the final first round poll numbers, Cellou Diallo is the odds-on favorite to be the next President of Guinea.

Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the first round election complaints three weeks ago, the delay in announcing the run off date did cause a degree of concern. We have learned that there were several reasons for the delay including: internal discussion on whether or not to conduct the poll during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan; the need to give the national election commission more time to work through the logistical and administrative problems experienced during the first ballot; and the desire to calm the political waters after an intense electoral contest.

Ultimately, whatever the reason for the delay, the people of Guinea remain poised for a positive outcome as they prepare for Guinea's return to civilian rule.

Yes, there are difficult days which lie ahead for the next President of Guinea, but the new President's mandate will have the winds of legitimacy at its back. The decisions he makes will have the support of the people so long as the process itself is open, transparent and intended for the public good.

Much information has been reported about the need to review mining concession agreements to ensure they are fair and adequately compensate the nation's treasury. This is a necessary and important process because the expected revenue must be used prudently to develop essential infrastructure to support commerce, health, education and sustainable development.

What Guinea needs now is for international donors, institutions and organizations to increase efforts to support the final stages of a democratic transition and help Guinea revive its economy.

To ensure democracy, the election commission needs resources and technical assistance to conduct the second round elections and to once again prevent voter fraud and quickly adjudicate election complaints. International organizations and natural resource watch dog groups must align together to assist the government in its review of the mining concession agreements to ensure overall fairness for Guinea and the mining companies.

An opportunity exits to have a win-win outcome: a win for the democratically elected president and a win for the people of Guinea . Let us not allow this opportunity to slip through our fingers. Old fashioned diplomatic action, new age technical accountability and the desire of a nation to end the cycle of misrule and to put itself on the path to democracy can come together to create a new model for good governance in Africa. Let's move now to support Guinea in this historic effort.