Guinea's Laptop Election Monitors Now Crisis-Mapping

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The New York based group that monitored Guinea's historic election via text messages from voters is now monitoring outbreaks of violence between members of the West African nation's opposing parties. On Monday, the Electoral Commission announced a winner in the close Presidential run-off, and members of the losing party are dissatisfied with the count.

Before the polls closed on November 7, members of the New York-based NGO Alliance Guinea used a crowd-sourcing program that allowed anyone with a cell phone to send a text message if he or she witnessed a voting irregularity. Then volunteers all over the world would map the allegations on a public Web site. But with the announcement that longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde received more than 52 percent of votes, violence has broken out and the international members of Alliance Guinea have been mapping scores of SOS messages.

On the phone from her home in New York City, co-founder Jennifer Swift-Morgan said some are as bad as, "Come quick, my family is being attacked." Or, "It's hell here."

The losing candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, is accusing Guinea's Electoral Commission of including the results of two voting districts in which he alleges there was fraud. Excluding those two districts could change the outcome of the run-off election and make Diallo the winner.

In Guinea, the Supreme Court has to confirm the election's outcome, and it is also charged with investigating allegations of fraud if it sees fit. On Monday evening, Diallo urged supporters to remain calm, saying he would prove to the court that there were massive irregularities.

Swift-Morgan of Alliance Guinea said rioting in the capital city of Conakry on Monday prevented members of Alliance Guinea's rapid response team from getting to a place where they could check the online text messages and try to address the allegations they contain. "It's been a sad day," she said, adding that Alliance Guinea's volunteers went from promoting citizen engagement and democracy to crisis mapping.

The main goal of Alliance Guinea's election-monitoring Web site now, Swift-Morgan said, "is to make sure the world knows this crisis has broken out."

Reported instances of violence are mapped here.