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Guineans go to the polls in presidential elections

Voters in the west African nation of Guinea are casting their ballots after widespread pre-election violence. Riot police and observers are monitoring the vote after an opposition call to postpone the poll failed.

Sunday's presidential election in Guinea pits incumbent President Alpha Conde against opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo and six other rivals, who are vying for the favor of the country's six million voters.

The

pre-election violence that has marred the run-up to the poll

continued right up to the last day, with clashes in the capital, Conakry, between members of the ruling party Rally of the Guinean People and opposition parties. Dozens were injured as the two sides threw rocks at each other.

On Friday, seven people were killed in more fighting in the country's southeastern Banankoro district.

Much of the unrest in Guinea is considered to stem from political rivalry between the Malinke and Fulani ethnic groups. Conde, who belongs to the Malinke group, defeated Diallo, a Fulani, in a run-off at the country's first democratic election in 2010 after years of military rule.

Protests in Conakry, Guinea

Violence has marred campaigning

Post-election unrest likely

The election on Sunday is going ahead despite calls from the opposition for it to be postponed amid alleged problems with electoral lists and the distribution of voter cards.

The Constitutional Court - and Conde -

rejected all calls for the vote to be delayed,

and the Independent National Electoral Commission said more than 90 percent of voter cards, which are necessary to cast a ballot, had been handed out.

The incumbent president's rivals have all vowed to challenge the results, fuelling fears that there could be even more violence in the days to come.

The ballot is being monitored by an African Union observer mission and a 72-member European Union delegation. Some 19,000 police and security force members have also been deployed to ensure the ballot is held peacefully.

Results are expected on Tuesday at the earliest.

Wahlkampf in Guinea 2015 Alpha Condé Cellou Dalein Diallo

Guinea's people are among the poorest in the world

Widespread poverty

Conde, 77, has campaigned on what he says is an excellent record for the five years he has been in power, citing among other things an overhaul of the army and judiciary and the construction of a hydroelectic dam.

However, the country remains one of the world's poorest, despite possessing large resources of the aluminium ore bauxite. Half of its population live below the poverty line as defined by the United Nations, and many lack access to electricity or running water.

tj/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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