M. Continuo

Guinea to hold presidential vote on October 11 - election commission

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea will hold the first round of its 2015 presidential election on October 11, the West African nation's electoral commission said on Tuesday.

President Alpha Conde is widely seen as favourite to win a second term in Africa's largest bauxite exporter, analysts say, though he has not officially confirmed his candidacy.

Presidential and legislative elections since 2010, when Guinea emerged from decades of autocratic military rule, have been marred by months of violent protests, with opposition and ruling parties divided along ethnic lines.

"The date of the first round has been set for October 11," said Etienne Soropogui, deputy direct of operations at the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), adding that local council elections would be pushed back until next year.

The commission's decision could stoke political tensions because opposition parties have demanded that local council elections be held before the presidential vote. They have threatened to call their supporters to the streets to protests.

Regional experts fear political tensions in the iron ore, gold and bauxite-rich nation could rekindle violence in a country already ravaged by the worst Ebola outbreak on record. Some 2,100 people have died from the epidemic in Guinea since December 2013.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Daniel Flynn)