Vote count begins after tense election in Guinea

Guinea's President Alpha Conde greets his supporters in Conakry on October 31, 2019. - Tens of thousands of Guineans rallied in support of President Alpha Conde on October 31, 2019, after two weeks of violent protests against the leader's suspected bid to prolong his rule claimed around 10 lives. (Photo by CELLOU BINANI / AFP) (Photo by CELLOU BINANI/AFP via Getty Images)

Vote counting is under way after Guinea’s high-stakes election in which the 82-year-old President Alpha Conde is seeking a controversial third term.

Sunday’s vote follows months of political unrest, where dozens of people were killed during security crackdowns on mass anti-Conde protests.

Polls closed after a mostly calm day of voting, but there are already fears of post-election discord after Conde’s main opposition rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, suggested the president may “cheat”.

“Alpha Conde cannot abandon his desire to grant himself a presidency for life,” Diallo told reporters on Sunday, warning his rival not take power using “cunning and violence”.

Before counting began, his supporters decried ballot-box stuffing and said its observers encountered obstructions at polling stations.

Guinea’s Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana said there had been “small incidents here and there”.

The results are not expected for several days.

Ten other candidates besides Conde and Diallo were contesting the poll.

A second-round runoff vote is scheduled for November 24, if needed.

Political tensions during the campaign raised the spectre of ethnic strife, with Conde accused of exploiting divisions for electoral ends – a charge he denies.

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