Clashes between supporters of rival political parties and delays in completing voter lists are fuelling worries that Guinea's June 27 election may be derailed.
The presidential poll in the world's biggest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite is intended to end the unrest in the West African country that has raised concerns over stability in the region since a December 2008 military coup.
While officially the vote is still on track, the haphazard preparations of the caretaker government charged with staging the vote are creating a mood of impatience, and the limbo is weighing on the economy and public finances.
"We've got to clarify the situation and shake off the burden of having a military leadership. If we get an elected president, the foreign donors will start coming back," Mamadou Baddiko Bah, a leader of the Forces Vives opposition grouping, told Reuters.
Guinea's woes culminated in the massacre last September of over 150 pro-democracy protesters by authorities, turning then junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara into an international pariah.
His Dec. 3 wounding in a gun attack by an ex-aide brought the prospect of a return to order when his deputy Sekouba Konate took power and promised elections within six months.
But since then, authorities have missed a March 18 target date for completing a census of voters, and caretaker Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore has struggled to find his feet with erratic policies.
The prolonged crisis is hitting the economy, with shipments of bauxite down by 16.4 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, while state coffers are owed around $250 million -- almost double last year's mining revenues -- in uncollected taxes and other dues.
Guinea's latent ethnic tensions are beginning to show.
"The biggest fear in this election is that it will lead to an exacerbation of ethnic divisions, or between militants of parties competing for the same electoral base," said Mamady Kaba of African human rights group RADDHO.
Street clashes in the past few days have involved supporters of Guinea's two main ethnic groups the Malinke and the Peul.
Kaba warned the minority groups collectively known as the "forestieres" from the wooded south could press demands for Camara, their figurehead, to return from his convalescence in Burkina Faso.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2010, 20:43