Africa News blog
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Barring last-minute upsets, Ivory Coast will go to the polls on Sunday, marking the end of a five-year limbo in which the incumbent president has ruled without any real mandate and the country stagnated without a sense of identity or direction.
The following weekend, neighbouring Guinea may finally hold the serially delayed second-round of its presidential election, hoped to end nearly two years of military rule whose defining moment was a massacre of pro-democracy marchers by the security forces in a sports stadium.
It can only be a good thing if the elections allow Ivory Coast and Guinea to draw a line under their past and move on. But is either country actually ready for them?
In Guinea any semblance of voting on a candidate’s policy proposals or merits has been jettisoned after June’s first round which, to no great surprise, set the stage for a run-off between Cellou Dallein Diallo and Alpha Conde — representatives of the large Peul and Malinke communities respectively.
In the village of Leer, reminders of civil war are everywhere, such as a large hole where most of the village would crouch, hiding from bomber planes and helicopter gunships.