Guinea opposition condemns 90 protest deaths ahead of polls

The controversial bid by 82-year-old President Alpha Conde for a third term on October 18 has sparked massive protests in the country.

Rights groups accuse Conde - who is a former opposition figure himself - of drifting into authoritarianism [John Wessels/AFP]

More than 90 people have been killed in a crackdown on protests against Guinea President Alpha Conde’s bid to seek a controversial third term in elections at the weekend, a leading opposition group has said.

The 82-year-old is vying for re-election on October 18, after pushing through a new constitution in March that critics said was designed to sidestep a two-term limit in the West African country.

Opposition to a third Conde term has brought tens of thousands of Guineans to the streets since mid-October last year.

The protests have often turned violent, however, and dozens have been killed. A constitutional referendum in March was also marred by violence.

On Monday, the anti-Conde coalition FNDC published a tally of 92 protesters killed since the start of the protests.

Some 45 of those protesters were shot dead, the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) said, and eight remain unidentified.

Guinea’s Security Minister Albert Damantang Camara dismissed the FNDC tally, however, saying that he refused to submit to a politically motivated “macabre accounting”.

“There have been violent deaths, which we regret, and we are working to ensure that this does not happen again,” he told the AFP news agency, “but it would be very surprising if there were 92 of them”.

Supporters of the incumbent join a campaign event in Conakry ahead of the October 18 elections [Cellou Binani/AFP]

The minister admitted that political clashes may be responsible for 42 deaths, but said there was not enough evidence to attribute them to security forces.

Amnesty International, in a report published on October 1, blamed Guinean security forces for the deaths of at least 50 protesters and urged the government to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Hopes of a new political dawn flowered when Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

But critics and rights groups have said Conde – who is a former opposition figure himself – has increasingly veered towards authoritarianism in his current second term.

Source: AFP