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Guinea presidential candidate to challenge election in court

Guinean presidential candidate and former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo announced Monday that he would take to the Supreme Court to challenge his defeat [press release, in French] in the West African nation's November 7 runoff election. The election, Guinea's first since it gained independence from France in 1958, took place amid ethnic clashes [AP report] between the country's two major ethnic groups, the Malinke and the Peul Although election supervisors said the vote was largely peaceful, more civil unrest followed [Reuters report] when it was announced that opposition leader Alpha Conde of the Rally of Guinean People (RPG), a Malinke, had won with 52.5 percent of the vote. Shortly thereafter, Diallo, a Peul and the head of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UDFG) [party website, in French] declared himself the winner [press release, in French]. Now Diallo is alleging that the election was the result of "fraud on a massive scale" in the runoff, including "computer manipulation" of votes, ballot stuffing and systematic suppression and intimidation of ethnic Peuls in UDFG stronghold districts. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon Monday urged the people of Guinea to accept the election results [press release] and "resolve any differences through legal means." He also "call[ed] on the international community to provide Guinea with concrete support as the country embarks on a new phase towards peace, consolidation and development" and congratulated the nation on its first "peaceful, orderly" democratic transfer of power.

November's election ended two years of military rule under a transitional government formed by military captain Moussa Dadis Camara [BBC profile], who staged a coup in the wake of the death of former president Lansana Conte [Guardian profile], the nation's ruler for 24 years. In September, two Guinean election officials were convicted of election fraud [JURIST report] and sentenced to a year in jail in connection with irregularities that arose in the June presidential primary election, one incident in a string of controversies responsible for multiple delays of the runoff, which was initially scheduled for July [Reuters report]. 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 Camara, 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. Camara was ultimately forced into exile two months later after being shot in the head in an assassination attempt staged by one of his aides.

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