GUINEA: Elections delay again

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lack of funding and a June shift in government mean landmark legislative elections scheduled for November 2008 will be pushed back, Ben Sekou Sylla, president of Guinea’s independent national electoral commission (CENI), told IRIN.

“The change of Prime Minister and of the government could cause delays in the process for the simple reason that the new [ministers] must get up to speed with the issues before taking decisions on elections,” Sylla told IRIN.

The delay has not yet been formally announced, but if the elections are put on hold it will mark the fourth postponement in two years. Originally scheduled for June 2007 they were first delayed to December 2007, then to February 2008 and again to November 2008.

Cheick Fantamady Condé, CENI spokesperson told IRIN, "Even if nothing is yet official we are pessimistic when it comes to [government] compliance with the electoral calendar.”

For many Guineans elections, which the government promised following widespread civilian protests over justice and governance issues in early 2007, are the only ticket to political and economic stability.

The biggest constraint according to Sylla is the lack of funds. The current minister in charge of elections, Sékouba Bangoura, upped the funding requirements from his predecessor’s US$10 million to US$34 million, significantly widening the funding gap. “Financial constraints… could have negative repercussions on the electoral process," Sylla said.

The project manager in charge of revising the electoral rolls, Toure Ibrahima Kalil reiterated the lack of funding is holding back elections.

"The government and our development partners involved in organising the elections are trying to find the resources to bridge the funding gap,” he said, adding “but mobilising this money may take some time,” he told IRIN.

The deadline to revise the electoral rolls and register voters was originally 28 August but has been extended to 26 October.

Several analysts and donors predicted elections would be delayed following the surprise appointment of Prime Minister Soaré in May 2008.