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Guinea’s election – press conferences or scrums?

November 8, 2010

It remains to be seen if either candidate in Guinea’s presidential election knows how to run a country.

But after Sunday’s run-off election, during which the candidates wanted to say a few words to journalists after casting their ballots, it is clear that neither knows how to run a press conference.

Both events were like 1990s grunge mosh pits, only without the band, and with heavily armed soldiersĀ herding the cameramen, photographers and text journalists together into a sweating and nervous mass.

Cellou Dallein Diallo’s took the cake. First of all, he was four hours later than initially scheduled. That gave the press corps lots of time to quietly set up cameras and tripods around his polling station, everyone negotiating sensibly and amicably for position. But it was all for nothing.

The scene suddenly exploded upon his arrival, with bulky soldiersĀ in red berets and carrying automatic weapons storming through the journalists to make way for Diallo. People fell over backwards into the neighbourhood kids, who were chanting and leaping, pushing the other way in a volatile mix.

At one point, a soldier started whacking someone with the antenna of his walkie-talkie, sending the victim stumbling backwards into a table.

For a small taste of what it was like in Guinea during the Nov. 7 vote, have a look at this video.

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