Heating Up in Guinea: Diallo Supporters Hit with Tear Gas/Arrests, Diallo Threatens National Strike Over CENI, and Louceny Camara Will Not Go Away
Presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo has threatened to paralyze the country in a national strike if the issue of CENI president, Louceny Camara, is not resolved by tomorrow morning.
The presidents of Burkina Faso and the Gambia are in Conakry for consultations concerning the election.
France, due to the rapidly deteriorating situation, calls on political actors in Guinea to proceed with October 24 election.
Guinean youth protested both Sekouba Konate and Louceny Camara today in Conakry.
Guineans in US held a large protest/march at the White House and the US State Dept. today — (report coming soon)
Police clash with civilians in tense Guinean capital
By Joe Penney, For CNN
October 18, 2010 — Updated 2144 GMT (0544 HKT)
* The outbreak comes six days before the scheduled second round of voting
* Opposition candidate Diallo was the top vote-getter in the first round
* His party says the election commission chief is biased and must step down
* The official denies the accusations
Conakry, Guinea (CNN) — Guinea’s police and supporters of favored presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo fought in Conakry on Monday, according to eyewitnesses and a senior politician for Diallo’s party.
“The police attacked the youth and the motorcyclists, they injured a lot of people,” Oury Bah, vice president of Diallo’s UFDG party, told CNN on Monday evening. “I don’t know the exact numbers but I think there are many injured.”
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, an eyewitness told CNN.
Guinea is due to vote in its much-delayed presidential runoff election between two candidates — Diallo and Alpha Conde — on Sunday, but a dispute over the head of the electoral commission has cast doubt over the date’s feasibility.
Any violence could force a postponement of the election date. Bah accused the ruling military of trying to incite violence.
“I think they want to have a pretext to justify postponing the elections, because in reality they don’t want to organize elections,” Bah said.
“This country has been held hostage by the same people for a long time,” he added, referring to the military. “With the power they have the country’s riches, they do whatever they want and they want it to continue like this.”
Mike Lamb, an eyewitness of the clash, told CNN, “There was a small fight, and then it escalated, then [the police] fired tear gas … and that’s when everybody started running.”
He added, “They were swinging at everyone with batons. … You could tell they were ready for a fight.”
It was unclear who started the clash.
There were reports that supporters of the UFDG party had blocked a road with their motorcycles and that the police came to open the way. But Bah rejected those claims.
“That’s not true,” he said. “The rain forced people to leave the streets and everyone found refuge somewhere. It was at this moment that they came to Bellevue [a Conakry neighborhood], took motorcycles and attacked and injured many people.”
Diallo’s UFDG party accuses Louseny Camara, the head of the National Independent Electoral Commission, of being a Conde supporter and of stealing ballots from a populous Conakry suburb where Camara served as election administrator in the first round of voting.
Camara has denied the accusations and has said he will not step down.
Bah warned that if Camara is not replaced by Tuesday morning, UFDG will ask its supporters to strike.
“If, by tomorrow morning, we don’t have a neutral president of the CENI and the elections are not confirmed for October 24 as planned, there will be no economic activity, everyone will stay home. The country will be blocked,” Bah said.
Diallo won 44 percent of the votes in the first round, held June 27, while Conde polled second with a little over 18 percent.
Guinea has been ruled by a military junta since a coup in December 2008.