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Clash Breaks Out in Guinea Prior to Election – Several Reports

June 24, 2010

Several injured in clashes between Guinean parties

(AFP) – 5 hours ago

CONAKRY — Clashes broke out between supporters of two Guinean parties Thursday, injuring several people three days ahead of the country’s first free election since independence in 1958, the parties said.

Supporters from both parties were injured as they pelted stones at each other in the town of Coyah, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the capital Conakry, and an editor of French television channel TV5 “was hit in the head by a stone,” a doctor at the town hospital told AFP.

Witnesses said supporters of former prime minister Sidya Toure’s Union of Republican Forces (UFR) were awaiting a rally when they clashed with those of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) — the party of another ex-prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Toure confirmed the clashes and called for calm: “We do not want these types of incidents which are not characteristic of our members, we ask our brethren of the UFDG to regroup,” he said.

UFDG vice-president Amadou Bah Ory, said: “These are unfortunate incidents that we must banish from our behaviour.”

“The UFR and UFDG are not considered violent parties,” he added.

The violence between the two parties is the first since the beginning of the historic electoral campaign on May 17.

After 52 years of successive dictatorships, half of which under military rule, the troubled west African nation goes to the polls Sunday for the first ever transfer of power to a civilian leader.

At least 20 hurt in Guinea pre-election violence
Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:11pm GMT

CONAKRY June 24 (Reuters) – At least 20 people were injured when supporters of two political parties hurled stones at each other in the village of Coyah in Guinea three days before an election, witnesses and a national guard source said on Thursday.

The West African state’s presidential vote on June 27 is seen as its best chance to break from a troubled past of harsh authoritarian rule and, if it passes smoothly, could bolster democracy in a region notorious for coups and flawed polls.

“It is hot in Coyah. There are lots of wounded,” said the national guard source by telephone on condition of anonymity. He said most of the wounded were injured by thrown rocks.

A resident in the village 50 km (30 miles) from the capital Conakry told Reuters he counted 20 wounded and said dozens of vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

The fighting erupted between supporters of opposition parties Union of Democratic Forces (UFDG) and Union of Republican Forces (UFR), according to the sources.

Investors in Guinea, the world’s top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite and a major venue for iron ore explorers, crave stability after the 2008 death of strongman ruler Lansana Conte ushered in a junta and unrest many feared could spark civil war.

(For election preview, click on [ID:nLDE65M207])

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Noah Barkin)

Clash Breaks Out Before Guinea Elections

VOA News 24 June 2010

Fighting broke out between supporters of two Guinean political parties Thursday, three days before a landmark presidential election.

Witnesses say backers of the Union of Republican Forces and the Union of Democratic Forces threw stones at each other in Coyah, a village east of the capital, Conakry.

Several people were injured in the clash.  This is the first reported instance of political violence in Guinea since campaigning began in the middle of May.

Sunday’s poll is meant to restore civilian rule in Guinea after 18 months of a military-led government.  Officials hope it will be the country’s first free and fair election since independence from France in 1958.

On Wednesday, the head of Guinea’s army said soldiers are free to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Army Chief of Staff Colonel Nouhou Thiam said Guinea is now a democracy, and that soldiers will face no intimidation from colleagues and superior officers.

Twenty-four candidates are seeking the presidency, but only a few are expected to be strong contenders.  These include opposition leader Alpha Conde and former prime ministers Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure.

The West African country has been run by two presidents who ruled with an iron fist and suppressed human rights.  A military junta seized power in 2008, after the death of President Lansana Conte.  Original junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara went into exile after being shot and wounded by an aide late last year.

His successor, Sekouba Konate, set up the current transitional government.  General Konate and other interim leaders are not eligible to run in the election.

A candidate needs to win a majority of the vote Sunday to be declared president.  Guinea’s electoral commission has proposed July 18 as the date for a run-off vote if one is needed.

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