Clashes ahead of Guinea run-off

Leading presidential candidate's supporters clash with police as fears grow over attempt to bring in civilian rule.

    Diallo's supporters  have been holding campaign rallies across the capital ahead of the run-off polls [Reuters]

    Two political protesters have been killed and several others injured in street clashes with police in
    Guinea's capital, Conakry, just days before a presidential run-off election.

    According to witnesses, the police were initially attacked on Tuesday by supporters of Cellou Dalein Diallo, the leading candidate contesting the October 24 poll.

    A doctor speaking on condition of anonymity said at least 29 people were injured in the clashes, including "13 adolescents and three young girls".

    Diallo accused the police of killing his supporters that some of his supporters had died in the violence.

    "The security forces are beating my supporters, killing some of them and arresting others," Diallo said.

    Increasingly tense

    Diallo won the first round of the election on June 27 with 43 per cent of the ballots, against Alpha Conde, who had 18 per cent.

    Relations between Diallo's supporters and security forces have become increasingly tense as the election date gets closer, with violent clashes taking place in several districts of Conakry, the capital, on Monday as well.

    Jean-Marie Dore, the prime minister, said: "If there is any public disorder, we will arrest those who are in the streets, as well as those who are directing them."

    The presidential poll was supposed to bring civilian rule to the West African nation, but the country's first free elections have divided the country. The two remaining candidates come from the two largest ethnic groups and divisions have fallen along these lines.

    In an attempt to ensure that the poll goes ahead on Sunday, General Sekouba Konate, the head of the military government, replaced Lounceny Camara, the controversial head of the Independent National Electoral Commission [CENI].

    Diallo had pressed for a "neutral and consensual" replacement for Camara, whom he accused of being wrongfully elected and being close to his opponent.

    Fraud case

    A Conakry court is due to rule on Thursday, on a case filed by Daiallo's UFDG against Camara, who is accused of "electoral fraud".

    He allegedly removed 109 voting records from the first-round in the Ratoma constituency, Guinea's biggest and a stronghold of Diallo, leading to the annulment of the entire constituency's vote.

    At the time, Camara was not head of the electoral commission. He assumed the post in September.

    Camara's conviction would likely anger Conde's supporters.

    Civic organisations have asked the junta chief to dissolve the election commission altogether and replace it with a directorate composed of three members of civil society and two administration representatives, headed by a known public figure.

    Siaka Toumani Sangare, a Malian national from the International Organisation of la Francophonie [OIF], hs been appointed as the new head of the independent national electoral commission.

    Guinea has been under military rule since it gained independence from France in 1952.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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