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Guinea calls presidential runoff for October 24

(Audio available further in this article)

CONAKRY, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Guinea will hold the delayed second round of its presidential election on October 24, the presidency of the military-ruled West African minerals producer said on Tuesday.

The announcement appeared to signal the end of a weeks-long row over the leadership of the national election body that has threatened to derail the transition to civilian rule and raised fears of unrest that could spread to a fragile region.

(To listen to this article, click on the player below)

{play}media/mp3/art1413.mp3{/play}

One candidate said he still refused to acknowledge the head of national election commission CENI, but did not explicitly reject the new date.

"Based on a proposal made by the CENI, the vote for the second round of the presidential election is called for Oct. 24," presidential spokesman Mohamed Kasse said on state television.
That date was signed into law by junta leader Sekouba Konate, presidency secretary-general Tibou Kamara told state TV.

The run-off between Celou Dalien Diallo and Alpha Conde, the two leaders of June 27's first round, was first set for Sept. 19 but was delayed by street violence between their supporters.

A subsequent date of Oct. 10 was proposed but fell by the wayside as the two candidates disputed who should lead CENI after its top official died of a long illness.

Diallo, a former prime minister, won the first round with 43.69 percent of the vote. Conde placed second with 18.25 percent.

"It's all very well to have set a date but for us it is out of question that this Louceny Camara should lead the process to the end," said Diallo spokesman Mamadou Bah Baddiko of the newly named CENI head, whom Diallo accuses of bias.

Conde's camp, which says their candidate's first-round vote was artificially low because of irregularities, was more upbeat.

"We have noticed that there has been an improvement in the organisation (of the vote) and we hope that everything will be ready," Moustapha Naite, Conde's assistant head of communication, said by telephone.

Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite and is being wooed by mining majors from Asia, Europe and elsewhere for its deposits of iron ore.

The election is intended to return Guinea to civilian rule and, if it passes off smoothly, would be its first properly democratic election since 1958 independence from France.

There are fears that a long delay in completing the election would either prompt renegade soldiers to mount a putsch or lead to violence between supporters of Diallo and Conde.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Peter Graff)

 

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