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Guinea officials convicted of election fraud

Two Guinea election officials were convicted Friday of election fraud and sentenced to a year in jail for irregularities with June's presidential primary election. The convictions of Ben Sekou Sylla, president of the election commission, and his top aide, El Hadj Boubacar Diallo, have raised further tensions [AfricaNews report] before the presidential run-off election scheduled for September 19. The verdict was handed down without the presence [AP report] of either official, and Diallo said he did not find out until being contacted by a radio journalist for a comment. In the June presidential election [JURIST report], no candidate received a majority of votes, forcing a run-off election. The fraud complaint was lodged by the opposition leader Alpha Conde who came in second in the primary election with 18 percent of the vote. Former prime minister Cellou Diallo received 44 percent of the vote and is seen as the favorite [BBC report] in the upcoming run-off.

The runoff election has already been postponed after first being scheduled for July 18 [Reuters report] due to allegations of misconduct during balloting. The votes have divided primarily along ethnic lines, with all candidates running on a similar platform of economic expansion and the rule of law. The presidential election is seen as the first free election in Guinea since attaining independence in 1958. In May, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sent a delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) [official websites] to Guinea to further investigate the killing [JURIST report] of more than 150 pro-democracy protesters in Conakry [BBC backgrounder] in September 2009. The protesters had rallied against Guinean military leader Moussa Dadis Camara [BBC profile], who announced in October that he intended to push elections forward three months and stand for election, breaking a promise not to run made shortly after he took power. An assassination attempt on Camara two months later eventually drove him into exile.

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