Guinea's former PM to run for presidency in October

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Guinean opposition leader and former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo speaks in a microphone in Conakry to a crowd on April 19, 2015

Guinean opposition leader and former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo speaks in a microphone in Conakry to a crowd on April 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Cellou Binani)

Conakry (AFP) - Guinea's main opposition politician, ex-prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, was designated presidential candidate by his party on Saturday for the October vote, an AFP journalist said.

Diallo, who heads the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, also saw his party mandate extended for five more years during a three-day congress that ended Saturday in Conakry, the journalist added.

"By voting for me to be party president and candidate for the presidency of the Republic, you are urging all Guineans to trust me to change the course of our history and to give us a better, more promising future," Diallo said in a speech.

Political loyalties in poverty-stricken, troubled Guinea are generally drawn along ethnic lines, analysts say.

Diallo, who is supported by Guinea's second-largest ethnic group the Malinke, lost the last presidential election in 2010 to President Alpha Conde, who is backed by the main Fula ethnic group.

The first round of Guinea's presidential vote is scheduled for October 11, though talks between the government and the opposition have been suspended for weeks because of differences over how the election should be organised.

The opposition blames Conde's government of laying the groundwork to manipulate the vote by insisting on holding local elections after the presidential election -- claims that Conakry rejects.

Guinea's opposition is convinced that the local authorities, whose mandate formally expired in 2010, are completely under Conde's control.

Local elections were planned for 2014 but the timetable had to be ripped up when Guinea was hit by the Ebola epidemic.

The opposition accuses Conde of using the Ebola crisis as an excuse to keep his cronies in power locally, to help him rig the October vote.

The president argues that local officials will not be involved in the presidential polls.

Conde asked his government in May to open talks with opposition leaders following weeks of clashes between anti-government activists and security forces.

The violence left several people dead and dozens wounded in the west African nation's capital Conakry and several provincial towns.

With talks between the government and the opposition stalled, Diallo's supporters are demanding a reform of the electoral commission and an audit of the electoral register.