Preliminary results from Guinea's disputed presidential vote on Wednesday showed incumbent Alpha Condé leading the first round, as his main rival from the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) said he would pull out of the election.
The opposition has said that Sunday's vote – only the second democratic presidential poll since Guinea gained independence in 1958 – was marred by widespread fraud, demanding a re-run.
Preliminary results from around a quarter of the ballots cast showed Condé comfortably ahead of main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo of the UFDG, with the six other candidates trailing behind, the Independent National Electoral Commission said late Wednesday.
Diallo's spokesman Aboubacar Sylla said: “The UDFG has decided to definitely put an end to its participation in the current electoral process.”
He dismissed it as a "travesty of an election". Diallo himself had earlier dubbed the vote "a masquerade, a massive fraud throughout the day".
His party would "use all legal means, including peaceful demonstrations... to protest against the denial of democracy and justice for which the current authorities are to blame", Sylla said.
Sarah Sahko, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in the capital Conakry, said Condé’s government appealed for calm and said rival candidates should address electoral institutions with any complaints.
“Condé warned that there would be sanctions for anyone who calls for post-election violence,” she said.
It was not immediately clear what Diallo's withdrawal would mean if the election goes to a second round run-off.
The election commission has been criticised by the opposition and by European Union observers for its poor organisation of the poll.
EU observer mission chief Frank Engel said the many logistical and organisational problems "confirmed the lack of preparation".
In a statement earlier, the commission said turnout was extremely high at almost 75 percent and described the atmosphere as being "characterised by serenity, calm and exceptional enthusiasm".
The first free presidential vote in 2010, won by Condé, 77, in a run-off against Diallo, 63, was tainted by accusations of fraud and violence, as were legislative polls three years later.
Condé spent nearly three decades in exile in France, where he led opposition to Guinea's dictatorial first president Ahmed Sekou Touré.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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