Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has won a third term with 59.49% of the vote, the National Independent Electoral Commission declared Saturday.
Some people went to the streets to protest immediately after the announcement. Such demonstrations have occurred for months after the government changed the constitution through a national referendum, boycotted by the opposition, allowing the 82-year-old Conde to extend his decade in power. He could serve up to 10 more years.
Opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo received 33.50% of the vote, the electoral commission said. Voter turnout was almost 80%, reports AP.
Tensions around the election in the West African nation turned violent in recent days after Diallo claimed victory ahead of the official results. Celebrations by his supporters were suppressed when security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.
At least nine people have been killed since the election, according to the government. The violence sparked international condemnation by the U.S. and others.
“Today is a sad day for African democracy,” said Sally Bilaly Sow, a Guinean blogger and activist living abroad. The government should take into account the will of the people who have a desire for change, he said.
On Friday, internet and international calls were cut off across the West African nation in anticipation of the election results, according to locals and international observers in the capital, Conakry.
This was the third time that Conde faced against Diallo in an election. Before the latest vote, observers raised concerns that any electoral dispute could reignite ethnic tensions between Guinea’s largest ethnic groups. The two main candidates drew support from the Malinke and the Peuhl, and previous match-ups have resulted in violence.
Ibrahima Kalil Gueye, president of the Organization for Positive Change, a local civil society group, described Conde’s new term as an “illegal mandate” and doubted that the situation will improve if security forces fire on demonstrators. He also questioned the validity of the vote, alleging that “the fraud is massive.”
When Conde came to power in 2010, in the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France in 1958, he was seen as a fresh start for a country wracked by decades of authoritarian rule. He had spent decades as an opposition figure under dictatorship.
Opponents, though, say Conde has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s vast mineral riches. In his final campaign speech, opposition candidate Diallo condemned the high unemployment and human rights abuses of the past decade.
At least 50 people were killed in the past year in political violence, prompting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the eve of the poll to urge political leaders to “refrain from acts of incitement.”
The International Criminal Court at The Hague has said it is “deeply concerned” about the mounting tensions in the country of some 12 million people.