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Guinea vote counting underway after peaceful ballot but fears of violence remain

The votes in Guinea's presidential election are being tallied. Polling day passed off peacefully despite recent clashes, the country's history of election violence linked to ethnic tensions and fears of electoral fraud.

As vote counting got underway in Guinea, fears persisted that the violence which tainted the elections in 2010 and 2013 would break out again, despite

calm during the actual voting on Sunday.

Opening hours for polling places were extended in some instances where they had opened late. Buckets of chlorine were placed outside as a precaution in a country still reeling from the effects of its worst-ever

outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Some six million Guineans were eligible to vote for their next president from a total of eight candidates, including incumbent Alpha Conde. The 77-year-old (pictured) won the country's first democratic elections in 2010, but they were marred by violence and allegations of fraud, as were legislative polls in 2013.

Speaking after voting in the capital Conakry, Conde said: "I ask all Guineans, whatever their party, to fulfil their civic duty peacefully and calmly."

Conde's main challenger is opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. He had earlier reversed a

call for the ballot to be postponed

due to fears of fraud and joined in the call for calm.

"We must hope there will not be (violence) after the elections and that the people of Guinea show maturity," Diallo said after casting his vote in a Conakry suburb.

Waiting for results

It's the former French colony's second ever democratic presidential poll after it was subject to years of dictatorships and coups following its independence in 1958. Several people were killed in

election-related clashes

in the days leading up to Sunday's vote and concerns remained about the possibility for

further fighting once results were released.

"Violence is still quite likely," Alexandre Breining, an analyst with Africa Practice told news agency Reuters by phone from the capital Conakry. "There is a high chance that as soon as the provisional results are out, opposition leaders will ask supporters to take to the streets.

Half of Guinea's population lives below the UN poverty line despite the West African country being the continent's leading producer of bauxite, the raw material for aluminum.

Election results were not expected until at least late Monday. If there is no decisive winner a runoff vote will be held.

se/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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