Chief of Guinea opposition gives 5-day deadline

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — The head of Guinea’s opposition announced on Friday that he is giving the country’s election body another five days to meet their demands, including publishing a corrected list of registered voters.

Cellou Dalein Diallo said at the news conference broadcast on private radio stations that if the National Independent Electoral Commission fails to comply with their request by Wednesday at midnight, the opposition will begin street protests next Thursday. The new ultimatum comes after the expiry of a 72-hour deadline imposed by the opposition earlier this week.

For nearly three years, Guinea has been paralyzed by quarrels between the opposition and ruling party over the modalities of a much-delayed legislative election, which is due to take place Sept. 24. The opposition claims that the voter list is tainted, with an explosion of voters in precincts known to be favorable to the ruling party, and a marked decrease in opposition strongholds.

The U.N. special envoy to the region has been flying to Conakry weekly to try to get the two sides to move ahead. Meanwhile, the nation of 11.5 million has been left without a functioning parliament.

The electoral body has already published a list in precincts nationwide, but the opposition rejected it, saying it was rife with errors. They say the mistakes are concentrated in places like the Fouta, a lush region of rolling hills which is the opposition’s stronghold.

Diallo, who came in second in the 2010 presidential election, said they are giving the five-day deadline so that the election body can reinsert the names of voters who cast ballots in 2010, but who do not appear on the 2013 list. And he says that the list needs to reflect “the geographical realities” on the ground.

“We are not asking for all of this to be finished from now until Wednesday, but we are demanding guarantees that these things will be done in a timely manner,” he said.

Moustapha Naite, campaign spokesman for the ruling party, said Thursday that the opposition’s demands were unfounded, and amounted to a delay tactic. He argued that the ruling party was ahead in the polls, and the opposition was looking for an excuse to back out of the race.

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Associated Press writer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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