Guinea opposition threatens election boycott over voter lists

Reuters

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea's opposition parties threatened to call street protests and boycott legislative elections later this month if the country's elections commission fails to publish voter lists within 72 hours, an opposition spokesman said.

The voting will be the last step in a transition to civilian rule after the military seized power following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte in 2008, and are seen as critical to reassuring investors in the mineral-rich West African state.

The Guinean government and the opposition reached a U.N.-brokered deal in July to hold the long-delayed elections on September 24 after at least 50 people died in a spate of unrest.

A spokesman for the opposition late on Monday accused the government of President Alpha Conde of manipulating, through the electoral commission, voter lists in favour of the ruling party.

The government and commission both denied the charge.

"We have asked that the electoral lists be made public for a few days to allow Guineans to actually see that the many anomalies on the lists have been corrected," Aboubacar Sylla, spokesman for the opposition coalition, told journalists.

He said the opposition would not participate in the elections if the lists were not made public.

"If we don't get a clear answer from the commission within 72 hours, we'll call our supporters to the streets to protest."

Guinea government spokesman Moustapha Naite said the boycott threat was a sign that the opposition was desperate and knew it is facing defeat at the polls.

The election, originally slated for 2011, is essential to unlocking nearly 200 million euros of European Union aid to Guinea which, despite being the world's leading exporter of bauxite, remains one of Africa's poorest nations.