The Carter Center International Election Observation Mission to Guinea
The Carter Center congratulates all Guinean presidential candidates and commends all parties for bringing their election disputes to the attention of the Supreme Court and accepting the settlement. As none of the 24 candidates secured a majority of votes, the two top finishing candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé will now face each other in a run-off election.
Despite systematic weaknesses in the management of the results process, The Carter Center reaffirms its June 29 statement that it has not found evidence of systematic fraud in the electoral process. However, the results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and submitted to the Supreme Court are an incomplete record of the total ballots cast on election day.
This statement reflects the Center's continued observation of the full tabulation process, CENI's announcement of provisional results on July 2, the election dispute resolution process administered by the Supreme Court, and the announcement of final official results on July 20. The Carter Center's election observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, and assessments made against Guinea's domestic law and international obligations for democratic elections.
Tabulation and the Announcement of Provisional First Round Results
According to the Electoral Code, provisional results were to be announced within 72 hours following the close of the polling stations. >At CENI's request, the Supreme Court issued a directive extending the legal time limit by 48 hours to July 2>. >The delay in the announcement of provisional results and the partial nature of those results are the product of a series of operational weaknesses in the implementation of the procedures for the collection and transmission of voting results from polling stations to the prefectural level and subsequently to the CENI headquarters.
Management of security mechanisms and transmission of results:
Three systems were in place to relay results to CENI headquarters in Conakry. In the Centralization Commissions, located in each of the 33 prefectures and the five communes of Conakry, technicians transmitted polling station results by cellphone SMS and over a computer network. While one hard copy of the tally sheet of results from each polling station was to be delivered to the Centralization Commissions, a second was to be sent directly to CENI and a third directly to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Political Affairs (MATAP>).
The Carter Center notes that none of the transmission processes was implemented with complete success throughout the country. Approximately 20 percent of data from SMS and the computer system was missing. In a large number of cases, individual polling station results that were to be sent immediately to CENI were kept in the 33 prefectures and five communes of Conakry and only sent to CENI once all polling station information was received and processed by the Centralization Commissions. The consequence was that CENI based the provisional results solely on the 38 summary tally sheets provided by the Centralization Commissions, which consolidated polling station results for their respective prefecture or commune.
To improve the transmission of results, The Carter Center recommends that CENI draft guidelines with checklists that clearly indicate the procedure for securing counted ballots and results forms including the proper use of security seals and envelopes, and the clear indication of confirmation procedure for SMS and computer transmission. CENI should also clearly identify the parties responsible for transportation and transmission of results at all stages from the polling station, to CENI headquarters, and to MATAP in Conakry>. >Additionally, the Center strongly encourages CENI to review its operational procedures for the tabulation and recording of election results.
Publication of results:
The Center has previously commended CENI for its transparency in preparation for the June 27 election. As the tabulation progressed and operational and logistical challenges became increasingly evident, CENI struggled to maintain a consistent level of transparency. The political importance of maintaining the integrity of the results process obliges the electoral management body to record and report faithfully the conduct of all aspects of the polling, including the results process. >CENI has not provided complete and detailed results by polling station nor provided a record of which results were counted, which were excluded, and why, per recognized international good practice. The absence of full disclosure has contributed to an environment of suspicion and weakened public trust in CENI and the overall electoral process. Despite systematic weaknesses in the management of the results process, The Carter Center reaffirms its June 29 statement that it has not found evidence of systematic fraud in the electoral process. However, the results as announced by CENI, and submitted to the Supreme Court, are an incomplete record of the total ballots cast on election day.
CENI can advance the principle of transparent election management through the public disclosure of the detailed results, even in cases where institutional flaws caused results to be excluded.
Electoral Disputes and Final First Round Results
Following the June 27 election, fourteen presidential candidates submitted formal complaints to the Supreme Court. On July 20, the Supreme Court announced that out of the fourteen complaints, seven were declared admissible and were considered by the Court. The Court also conducted an independent count of the votes. It is important to note that the final official results announced by the Supreme Court excluded the Communes of Matam and Ratoma in Conakry and the Prefectures of Kankan, Lola, and Mandiana, whose votes were nullified.
The Carter Center congratulates all presidential candidates and commends the fact that legal proceedings have been satisfactorily followed, that the rule of law has prevailed in the post–election phase, and that the decision of the Supreme Court has been accepted by all parties. The Carter Center nevertheless is concerned by the exclusion of votes in two Communes and in three Prefectures; almost 900,000 votes that were included in the provisional results announced by CENI have not been taken into consideration. This resulted in a de facto disenfranchisement of approximately one third of the electorate.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations to Improve the Second Round
Many of the electoral guidelines were not finalized until shortly before the election and directives issued by CENI on polling day were not evenly disseminated. This produced confusion among voters and elections officials about critical procedures. The procedures themselves were largely adequate but CENI officials were unable to implement them fully.
The Carter Center recommends that the manual of guidelines for election officials be produced in a timely manner and provide detailed, clear, and non-contradictory information on voting procedures, the roles of each actor, and their responsibilities throughout the electoral process, including the tabulation and transmission of results. It is important that the correct opening, closing, and counting procedures be respected with special attention to the completion of the results form and the correct re-packing of the ballot boxes for collection. The Carter Center recommends that CENI disseminate the final guidelines, manuals and checklists for election officers at the various levels well in advance of the polling day.
The delay in finalizing the official procedures hindered the training programs for election officials. As a result, there was no common understanding of voting and tabulation procedures during and after election day. The procedures and systems require that election workers, political party representatives, and voters be well trained and aware of their roles and responsibilities. Carter Center observers noted that there were many cases of polling staff who did not adhere to, or who were unfamiliar with the procedures for counting ballots and transmitting results. The Carter Center recommends a major and extensive program for training electoral workers, party delegates, and domestic observers at all levels. Emphasis should be placed on the proper identification of invalid ballots, the use and distribution of results forms in the polling stations with all required signatures, the proper securitization and transmission of results from the polling station to the Administrative Centralization Commissions, and the management of non-compliant forms.
Management of election workers:
Many polling station staff, data entry personnel, and other election officials have complained of inadequate or late payment for their services. Carter Center observers noted that many election officials not only worked long hours before, during and after election day, but notably on election day; went without food or drink. In addition, observers have received reports of local CENI local officials (CEPI, CESPI, and CECI) lacking necessary funds to buy petrol for the vehicles assigned to deliver and collect election materials, including the results, in a timely manner. The Center recommends that CENI review its internal financial management systems to ensure not only that election officials receive fair pay for their labor, but that adequate means are available to all officials to implement their responsibilities>.
Electoral lists and lists of polling stations:
The location and total number of polling stations has been a central object of criticism of the first round of voting. The distance between stations in some cases created an undue hardship on voters, particularly given the restriction on motorized transportation on election day>. >Several presidential candidates complained that the placement of some polling stations in religious sites excluded voters or influenced their voting. Some voters also had difficulty locating their polling station.
The Carter Center recommends that the CENI ensure that the allocation of polling stations is in accordance with the Electoral Code, which requires that polling stations be easily accessible and outside of religious sites. Voter lists, including both electors holding voter cards and those holding receipts, should be made public as soon as possible and well before voting day. These lists should be posted outside of each polling station.
The Carter Center trusts that the run-off presidential election will be conducted peacefully and transparently and in a spirit of national unity to ensure that the will of the Guinean people is expressed in a genuine democratic election.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Visit: www.cartercenter.org to learn more about The Carter Center.
The principle of universal suffrage requires that the broadest pool of voters be able to cast their vote and have their vote counted (United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), art. 25 (b); African Union, African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance, art 4(2)). In addition, failure to count ballots may potentially undermine the rights of candidates to be elected through genuine, democratic elections (UN, ICCPR, art. 25 (b)).
For international good practice,see practices documented by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and the Electoral Commissions of SADC Countries (EISA and Electoral Commission Forum of SADC Countries ,Principles for Election Management, Monitoring, and Observation in the SADC Region,p. 26) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE,Existing Commitments For Democratic Elections In OSCE Participating States,p. 73)
It is recognized international good practice that the location of polling stations should be accessible to voters and that travel necessary to vote should not be an undue burden on the voter (see for example, United Nations, Human Rights and Elections: A Handbook on the Legal, Technical, and Human Rights Aspects of Elections,para. 104)