Parliamentary elections in Guinea on Saturday officially cap the mineral-rich West African country’s return to civilian rule after a 2008 coup, but many fear that the vote could reignite violence that killed dozens of people earlier this year. The contest, two years overdue, is ostensibly for the 114 seats to Guinea’s National Assembly, but with no single party expected to command an outright majority, political deal-making is sure to follow. And in a country where the president holds the real power, the parliamentary poll is widely seen as a warm-up to the 2015 vote when incumbent Alpha Conde’s five-year mandate ends. “They are all playing for the first round of 2015,” said a Conakry-based diplomat. “How do the presidential dividends weigh up against the frustrations of the first few years?”
During decades of misrule, Guinea’s vast wealth of bauxite, iron ore, gold and diamonds has failed to translate into prosperity and progress for the country of 11.5 million people. When Conde won the 2010 presidential race following two years of chaotic military rule, many were optimistic for change.
It coincided with planned multi-billion-dollar investments in projects by mining firms like Rio Tinto and Vale , who want to tap into vast iron ore reserves. But subsequent political instability caused by sometimes deadly protests over preparations for the weekend election, coupled with a collapse in metals prices and Guinea reviewing mining deals, have led to progress stalling and investor interest cooling.
“Virtually nothing has changed. In politics, they just say things to make people vote for you,” said Alpha Ba, a resident in the rubbish-strewn, potholed seaside capital of Conakry. “If we have a National Assembly, may be more people will have confidence. You know, foreign people don’t come to countries where there is instability,” he added.
Full Article: Guinea braces for long-delayed parliamentary vote | Reuters.