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Guinea hopes for a violence-free presidential election

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Guinea hopes for a violence-free presidential election


Hundreds have been queuing since dawn in Guinea to elect a new president.

The West African nation is holding its first free elections since it won independence from France in the 50s.

Until now it has been led by despot Presidents and a group of generals.

Many hope a fair vote will attract international loans and trigger the investment needed to exploit the abundant natural resources.

Despite having rich reserves of bauxite, iron and diamonds, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. One third of its ten million residents live in poverty.

Twenty-four candidates are seeking the presidency.

One front-runner is opposition leader Alpha Conde.
Like all the contenders he has vowed to improve the lot of the people and review mining contracts.

Cellou Dalein Diallo was once prime minister. He belongs to a large ethnic group — the Peul people.

Experts say the vote could divide on ethnic lines.

Another ex-Prime Minister Sidya Toure is from another smaller group.

Analysts say the first round of the election is unlikely to produce a clear winner. Officials have chosen July 18 as the date of a run-off, if it is needed.

While observers say the campaign has been quite peaceful, the security forces are closing the borders till midnight and have banned large gatherings to ensure the election takes place without bloodshed.

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