June 28, 2010, 11:09 am
By Deborah Hakes
Deborah Hakes is assistant director of public information for The Carter Center.
Click image below to watch the election day video.
Polls opened Sunday morning in Conakry to pouring rain, from which voters sought relief under trees and building overhangs. This was followed by a baking and relentless sun that lasted all day, as hundreds of people waited in line to vote across Conakry and Guinea. One voter told a Carter Center observer that she was in line for more than eight and a half hours. Women with babies on their backs, the disabled, citizens of all kinds waited in mostly good spirits, while poll workers did their jobs in an orderly and transparent way during a very long day for them; many going without food or water.
“This is a very, very important moment for Guinea because they are going to install new and proper democracy,” said General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s former head of state and co-leader of the Center’s international election observation delegation.
Election day had its share of imperfections in the process, as noted by Carter Center observers. These included a lack of clear communication to some individual poll stations that they should allow those already in line at poll closing time to be able to vote, and there was a lack of consistency among closing procedures. The overall findings of Carter Center observers will be detailed in the Center’s preliminary statement to be released on Tuesday.
Carter Center observation mission co-leader John Stremlau observed the counting process in Conakry.
“The ballots were counted in a civil, careful way. There seems to be a willingness to cooperate across all the parties represented (at the polling stations). This is a very inspiring day for Guinea’s democracy,” said John Stremlau, Carter Center vice president for peace programs.