Guinea electoral commission swears in most members

Associated Press

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's government swore in most members of its new electoral commission Thursday after opposition concerns earlier delayed the ceremony in a controversy that has prompted violent street protests.

Bakary Fofana, the former foreign affairs minister during Guinea's transitional government several years ago, was elected head of the commission. The panel's composition has been a source of tension in this West African country long plagued by dictatorship and strongman rule.

Members of the commission were appointed earlier this week via a presidential decree, but the opposition was unhappy with the list and said it would take the matter to court.

The 25-seat electoral body is supposed to consist of 10 members from the ruling party, 10 from the opposition, three from civil society and two from the administration. Aboubacar Sylla, the opposition spokesman, said that of the 10 seats reserved for the opposition, only nine were in fact opposition members.

After earlier staging a boycott, the nine opposition members ultimately took part in Thursday's ceremony.

"We have decided to bring our members to the swearing-in ceremony but we maintain our appeal that we have made to the Supreme Court to insist upon our 10th seat," Sylla said.

Opposition activists say that if the court does not hear their appeal, they will call for a march.

Previous marches led by the opposition have led to clashes with security forces, often along ethnic lines, because the country's police and army are largely drawn from the same ethnic group as current President Alpha Conde.

In 2010, Guinea succeeded in holding its first democratic presidential election since winning independence from France in 1958.

The country, though, has become increasingly divided along ethnic lines. It now has a democratically elected president but not a functioning parliament because of the failure to organize legislative elections.

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