By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The voting was held at the premises of the Senegalese School in Kanifing North where there were long queues of eager Guinean nationals ready to take part in deciding the future course of Guinea by electing the presidential candidate of their choice to steer the affairs of their fatherland for the next five years. The voters came all the way from Basse in the Upper River Region of the Gambia in order to cast their ballots. According to election officials on the ground and confirmed by this reporter, there were 17 polling stations at the school and it was also learnt that some voters came there as early as 6am.
Some personnel of Police Intervention Unit (PIU) were also on the ground to ensure an orderly and peaceful voting process. However, although there were some pushing and pulling at times with some voters getting impatient or trying to force their way in front, but the voting went peacefully without any serious incident.
Speaking to one Fassanah Conte, one of the presiding officers, he said that voting is going on very well and that the turnout is extremely good as people are coming in large numbers. He expressed his satisfaction with the process and the way voters are comporting themselves. He said the voting started at 8 am and is supposed to stop at 6pm.
When asked what they would do if all tose in the queue could not vote by 6pm, Mr. Conte’s response was that they consult with the election commission in Conakry to ask what to do if such a situation arises and that they could extend the time to allow everyone to cast his or her vote.
Another election officer, Boubacar Ba said the only problem they are facing now is that they have a lot of people coming to vote and not knowing which polling station to go to.
He said that some of the voters’ cards and the registration lists do not correspond and that some people are being referred from other polling booths. “But some people will be insisting because they don’t know and their complaint is that they have been queuing for so many hours only to be told that they cannot vote at a particular booth,” explained Mr. Ba.
Speaking to Foroyaa, one Amadou Korka Diallo from Ebo Town said he has been in the Gambia for 37 years now. He expressed his unhappiness with the voting process, adding that some people are really confused and do not know which booth to go to cast their ballots.
“What our people told us and what we have seen on the ground is different, because everything is messy as at now, even myself, I have been standing here for hours without being able to vote. The electoral commission should work hard on improving this situation to make sure that the voting process is made easier for voters,” he suggested.
He also called on their political leaders to respect the concerns of the entire Guinean population irrespective of their ethnicity.
Amadou Bailo Sow from Telemile in the Fouta Djalon region of Guinea said he is one of the coordinators of the Election Commission who are in charge of setting up the polling stations and assigned to sensitise voters on how to vote.
“We have been here since Saturday and had spent the whole night here in setting up the ground for voting to take place and also in charge of sensitising,” said Mr. Sow.
He was seen urging voters to be more patient and calling on them to see themselves as Guineans first and foremost.
“People should try and vote because it is their constitutional mandate, and they should not be discouraged by the long queue,” he was heard saying as he moved around.
Another voter called Isatou Diallo from Popo Draa, who had already voted, revealed that it was not an easy day for her as she has been on the queue since 6am.
“As you can see, the clothes I’m putting on are all wet and soaked in sweat. I stood for hours just to be able to vote but it is worth it,” she said.
Mamadou Salieu Diallo, who was found on the queue, also expressed his impatience because of the long queue.
“I came here around 6 am and now it is 3 pm and you can see that there are more than 20 people in front of me,” he said.
He also complained about the faded numbers on his cards which he said makes it initially difficult for him to know where he should vote. He also said that despite all this challenges he still regards it a worthy exercise for each eligible Guinean national to participate in.
Voters of all categories i.e. men, women, old and young, came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise in deciding the future of Guinea.
Eight candidates are contesting in the presidential election namely Alpha Conde of RPG party, the incumbent president, Elhadj Papa Koly Kourouma of GRUP, Sidya Toure of UFR, Mamadou Cellou Dallien Diallo of UFDG, Dr FAYA Lansana Milimouno of Bloc Liberal, Ghandi Fraguet Tounkara of UGDD, Marrie Madeleine Valey Dioubate of PEG, and Lansana Kouyate of PEDN.