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A senior United Nations official is holding consultations today in Guinea with key officials as part of an international effort to resolve the tensions surrounding the deferral of the country's second round of presidential elections.

Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa, arrived in Conakry, Guinea's capital, on Saturday as part of a joint delegation with officials from the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The delegation met with the two candidates in the run-off round, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde, as well as with the President of the National Transitional Council, the country's two vice-presidents and local representatives of the International Contact Group on Guinea.

Today they are scheduled to meet the Independent National Electoral Commission (known by the French acronym CENI) and other officials.

Delegation members are calling for the holding of the run-off round, which was previously scheduled to take place yesterday, within the shortest realistic timeframe, while insisting that all conditions for peaceful and free and fair elections must be met, according to information released by Mr. Djinnit's office.

Guinea's electoral authorities had cited technical reasons when they called off the ballot last week.

Mr. Diallo and Mr. Conde told the delegation that they deplored the deadly clashes earlier this month in Conakry and reiterated their commitment to an agreed protocol on peaceful campaigning. That agreement was signed in the presence of Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaoré, ECOWAS' mediator for Guinea, on 3 September.

On Friday, the Security Council said that the holding peaceful, free and fair elections is vital to re-establishing constitutional order in Guinea and voiced regret at the postponement of the election.

“The members of the Security Council regretted the postponement of the second round of the presidential elections and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to set a new date and organize it as soon as possible,” Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, which holds the Council presidency this month, said in a statement read out to the press.

The statement followed a closed-door meeting of the Council on the latest developments in Guinea, where clashes in Conakry claimed at least one life and injured dozens of others.

The head of CENI, Ben Sekou Sylla died overnight on 13 September, a week after he was convicted of falsifying results in the first round of the presidential ballot held in June, in which Mr. Diallo and Mr. Conde scored the highest number of votes among 24 candidates.

Many observers have said these presidential elections could be the first free and fair polls held in Guinea since it gained independence in 1958.