After a long period of military rule, Guinea is poised to join the world's democracies following the West African nation's recent landmark presidential elections. In a region where governments have been often – and sadly – determined by brute force, not the ballot box, the free, fair and largely peaceful voting June 27 should serve as an example not just for its neighbors, but for all nations striving for popular rule.
The United States congratulates the people of Guinea for the extraordinary effort seen in the balloting, the first free election since the nation won its independence in 1958. The voting was held under significant time pressure and considerable logistical challenges, and while some problems have been reported with delayed reporting and confusion at some polling places, initial reports from several international observers agree that the election was orderly and turnout was excellent.
It was barely nine months ago that a military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Conakry's September 28 stadium resulted in more than 150 deaths, hundreds more beatings and many rapes. In this election, millions of Guineans turned their backs on such violence to choose democracy and the rule of law.
Provisional results should be announced soon, and if none of the 24 presidential candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two will face each other in a run-off election set for July 18. Guinea still faces many challenges and we urge all interested parties to respect the outcome and work together to address them for the greater good.