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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 09:17 GMT
Opposition boycotts Guinea poll
women supporters
Despite an economic decline some Guineans still support Gen Conte
Guinean President Lansana Conte is poised for another term in office following a boycott of the weekend's elections by main opposition groups.

Little-known MP Mamadou Bhoye Barry, is challenging General Conte's administration at Sunday's elections.

FRAD, the opposition grouping, has asked for the elections to be called off due to the president's ill-health.

Guinea has large reserves of minerals but widespread corruption has run down its economy.

Ailing economy

About five million people are registered to vote at Sunday's poll and official results are expected on Monday.

The level of fraud they are cooking up for us is so massive, we know we can have nothing to do with this election
Siradiou Diallo an opposition leader
Government officials acknowledge that the president, who has been in power for two decades, has acute diabetes.

He has only appeared once in public during the election campaign.

His party has been dishing out T-shirts bearing his portrait and houses in Conakry sport green and white streamers - the party's colours.

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Conakry says that despite the country's ailing economy, some Guineans still think fondly of President Conte.

In 2001, voters approved a national referendum that amended the constitution to remove age limits for the presidency and expanded the term in office from five to seven years.

"The level of fraud they are cooking up for us is so massive, we know we can have nothing to do with this election" Siradiou Diallo, an opposition leader told the AP news agency.

Coup

Human rights groups have accused the government of widespread abuses.

But the US Government has rewarded Guinea with military support, and credited President Conte with maintaining relative stability in a region rocked by civil wars.

Since independence from France in 1958, Guinea has known only one other ruler - Sekou Toure.

President Sekou Toure died in 1984 during a heart surgery in the US.

A week later, Lansana Conte, then an army colonel, staged a bloodless coup and has ruled the country ever since, surviving military revolts.

He won multi-party elections in 1993 and 1998 which the opposition also claim were rigged.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Guinea
11 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guinea
15 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Dozens of arrests in Guinea army
28 Nov 03  |  Africa
Big fish circle Guinea
28 Feb 03  |  From Our Own Correspondent



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