Some 5.4 million registered voters in Guinea are set to cast ballots on Sunday in a tense presidential election, as incumbent Alpha Conde seeks a controversial third term.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) and will close at 6 p.m. (1800 GMT), according to the West African country’s Independent National Electoral Commission.

A large field of 12 candidates, including two women, are vying for the top post in Sunday’s poll.

The elections will be held using a two-round system, with a second round triggered if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first.

In March 2020 a new Constitution passed via referendum reset presidential terms, allowing Conde to seek a third term.

Conde’s Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) and his main opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), have accused each other of fueling inter-communal tensions during the campaign.

On Saturday the UN secretary-general called on ”all national stakeholders to ensure that the polls are conducted in an inclusive and peaceful manner.

He also called ”on all political leaders and their supporters to refrain from acts of incitement, inflammatory language, ethnic profiling and violence.”

He urged the country’s defense and security forces to act responsibly and with utmost restraint.

On Saturday Tibor Nagy, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said he spoke with Conde and his rival Diallo to stress the importance of a free, fair, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process.

Earlier this month the UN warned against hate speech in the country during the presidential campaign.

“Given the history of intercommunal violence in Guinea, I am deeply worried about such dangerous rhetoric by political leaders, which in some cases may amount to incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.