Polls closed in Guinea’s presidential election with the vote-counting process beginning immediately after as some 5.4 million people were registered to vote and mobilised at the polls in this year’s high stakes electoral process — which has been intense in light of current president Alpha Condé is seeking a controversial third term.
Many fear post-election discord as main opposition rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, suggested the president — with whom he has already exchanged insults during the campaign, may “cheat” in order to fulfill a life presidency.
Initial ballot results are expected to be announced in several days with second-round run-off vote scheduled for November 24, if needed.
The election follows months of political unrest, where dozens of people have lost their lives during security crackdowns on mass anti-Condé protests.
Guinea’s politics are mainly drawn along ethnic lines with the president’s base being mostly from the ethnic group Malinke while opposition Diallo’s base being mostly from the Fulani ethnic group.
After decades as an opposition activist, Condé, now 82 years of age, became Guinea’s first democratically-elected president in 2010 and won again in 2015 but rights groups now accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism.
Diallo, 68 years of age, was formerly a prime minister under authoritarian leader Lansana Conte.
Conde and Diallo already went head to head twice before intense polls in 2010 and 2015, but this year’s face-off is surrounded by even more intensity.