CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's electoral commission said Tuesday it could be days before provisional results are available from the West African nation's first legislative elections in more than a decade, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition.
The first partial results had been expected Tuesday, or 72 hours after Saturday's vote. However, electoral commission Vice President El Hadji Ibrahim Kalil Keita told journalists Tuesday morning that the results would not be made public until 72 hours after they had all been collected from polling stations around the country, a process that is still ongoing.
"I want to emphasize that the 72 hours begins when the commission has received all of the results. So, we are not yet at the end of the vote as certain people would like to believe," Keita said.
His timeline conflicted with one provided by the commission's own spokesman, Yero Conde, who on Saturday said results would start being announced 72 hours after the polls closed.
The vote was intended to complete Guinea's transition to democracy after decades of dictatorship and strongman rule. It had been delayed by nearly two years because of disputes over how it would be conducted that led to deadly protests as recently as last week.
On Monday, opposition leaders said "appalling" fraud would make it difficult to accept the results. The vote had been marred by ballot-stuffing, vote-tampering and the creation of more than 50 fake polling stations, charged Sidya Toure, an opposition politician who spoke to journalists after an emergency meeting on Monday night.
Toure said on Tuesday that there was no legitimate reason for the electoral commission's delay, claiming the commission was relying on a dubious interpretation of Guinea's electoral law.
"The electoral law is clear. It says you need to give the provisional results 72 hours after the election," Toure said. "We need to stick to it."
However, government spokesman Damantang Camara said the electoral law also is clear in that it makes no provision for street protests in case of a dispute over results.
"International observers were sent across the entire country. I don't see how there could be such cases of massive fraud," he said.
The United Nations has provided two helicopters to help facilitate the transport of results to Conakry.
Britain's Foreign Office on Tuesday praised Saturday's vote as "a significant step forward in the development of Guinea's democracy" and urged the country's politicians to ensure calm.
"As we await the results, we encourage Guinea's politicians to maintain the same calmness and responsibility shown by the people of Guinea during voting," the foreign office said in a statement.