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Guinea Bans Demonstrations After Pre-Poll Clashes Leave One Dead

September 12, 2010

Guinea bans demos after pre-poll clashes leave one dead

Sep-12-10 6:20pm
From:  afp.com

Guinea’s interim government Sunday banned further street demonstrations after two days of clashes between supporters of rival candidates in the presidential runoff left one dead and 50 hurt.

The ban came after interim prime minister Jean-Marie Dore held an emergency cabinet meeting late Sunday to discuss the crisis, a government source told AFP.

Stone-throwing supporters of former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde clashed Sunday in the suburb of Hamdallaye where both candidates’ political parties are headquartered.

The gangs also targeted vehicles in the area, and the violence ended only after police and paramilitary gendarmes moved in.

Supporters of Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UDFG) and Conde’s Rally for the People of Guinea (RPG) party had also clashed on Saturday in three separate districts of the city before police and gendarmes intervened.

Government spokesman Aboubacar Sylla later said the clashes left one person dead and 50 injured.

While the interim government banned street demonstrations to prevent further clashes, it decided to allow the political campaigns to continue on radio and television, the government source said.

Diallo and Conde are due to face off in a presidential runoff on September 19. Diallo won 43.69 percent in the June first round vote and Conde took 18.25 percent.

The June vote was Guinea’s first democratic poll since independence from France in 1958. The impoverished west African state has known decades of autocratic or military rule, and is currently led by a military junta headed by General Sekouba Konate.

Most political parties claimed voting irregularities and fraud in the first round and the Supreme Court threw out the votes of two districts of the capital Conakry and three cities.

The RPG blamed Diallo’s party for provoking Saturday’s clashes, which it said left 20 people injured, six of them in a serious condition. Conde’s home was also targeted during the violence, a party spokeswoman said.

The violence followed Friday’s announcement that the head of the National Independent Election Commission’s (CENI) and a top aide had been convicted of fraud.

Neither Ben Sekou Sylla nor his head of planning, Boubacar Diallo, were present at the trial and their lawyers said they would be appealing.

Other senior CENI members have denounced the convictions as an attempt to undermine their work and even get the runoff vote postponed.

Conde’s RPG party has accused Sylla and Diallo of having manipulated the first-round voting records, and an aide to Conde has called for the CENI leadership to be changed.

The weekend’s violence appeared to further undermine an agreement the two political rivals signed in Ouagadougou on September 3, in the presence of mediator President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso.

In the six-page “protocol of understanding for a peaceful election in Guinea,” Conde and Diallo undertook lead a peaceful political campaign… in order to preserve the cohesion and unity of the country.”

They also agreed to respect the outcome of the vote, declared their “respect for the independence” of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and undertook to ensure that their supporters accepted the result of the vote.

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