Guinea Temporarily Frees Jailed Protest Leaders

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

A Guinean court on Thursday temporarily freed 10 opposition leaders first jailed for staging mass anti-government protests, which have continued to paralyse the West African country despite their arrest.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets on several occasions since mid-October over speculation that President Alpha Conde, 81, is seeking a third term.

At least 20 civilians have been killed in the unrest to date, plus one gendarme.

On October 22 a court in the capital Conakry jailed several protest leaders on charges of organising unauthorised demonstrations and paralysing the economy.

However, lawyers representing the activists persuaded a court on Thursday to free 10 of them pending an appeal trial due to start on December 5.

Cries of “freedom” from oppostion supporters rang out in the courtroom following the verdict, according to an AFP journalist who was present.

Abdourahamane Sanoh, the co-ordinator of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups, was among those freed.

“We have won a battle but on December 5, we will win the war,” said Saloum Assia Cisse, an FNDC activist.

The protest leaders’ lawyers successfully argued to postpone the appeal trial by one week on Thursday in order to give them time to prepare their case.

They also convinced the court to the release the activists until that date.

“We have always said that this trial had no reason to exist,” said Mohamed Traore, one of the lawyers.

“We are going to fight again so that the appeal judge knows that innocent people were found guilty in the first ruling,” he added.

A former opposition figure himself, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

But critics say his regime has become increasingly authoritarian.

In September, he launched consultations on the constitution, which limits the number of presidential terms to two.

Conde has neither confirmed nor denied his intention to seek a third term.

Guinea, a former French colony, is rich in minerals but ranks among the poorest countries in the world. In the UN’s 2018 Human Development Index, it was listed 175th out of 189 countries.

Guinea Protesters March Against President Conde

Guineans wearing red in honour of those killed during demonstrations take part in a protest against the third term of the Guinean President, on October 24, 2019 in Conakry. AFP

 

Crowds of protesters marched through the Guinean capital of Conakry on Thursday in the latest round of demonstrations against President Alpha Conde, accused of trying to circumvent a bar on a third term in office.

Organisers said a million participants took part, while police put the number at 30,000.

Local media said there were hundreds of thousands of people.

The march unfolded peacefully after previous protests that led to deadly clashes, an AFP reporter saw.

Police mobilised in large numbers but kept a low profile.

Many demonstrators wore red in honour of those killed in protests last week. The opposition says 10 people died, while the authorities put the toll at eight, plus a gendarme.

“We will not allow it!” and “Down with dictatorship!”, they cried as they rallied in the seaside capital.

“We are tired of the lies, the false promises, and above all the fact that he (Conde) is no longer capable of meeting the expectations of the people. Ten years in power is long enough,” said Souleymane Kamagathe, a baker.

Dalanda Barry, a doctor, added: “Alpha Conde made us dream. He promised us heaven and earth. He is tired and he must go to reduce corruption.”

Protests were also held in the towns of Labe, Mamou and Pita, in central Guinea, where government authorities accused demonstrators of throwing stones at a police station.

The protest organisers also called for a fresh demonstration next Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a court in Conakry handed down a 12-month jail term to Abdourahamane Sanoh, coordinator of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups that is behind the protests.

Four other leaders were sentenced to six months.

They were found guilty of instigating a wave of unauthorised protests on October 14 that brought much of the West African state to a standstill.

The unrest has been stirred by charges that Conde, 81, plans to change the constitution to overcome a ban on seeking a third term in office.

Elections are due in 2020.

He has neither confirmed nor denied his intention to seek a third term.

Conde, a former opposition figure who was jailed and spent time in exile under Guinea’s previous authoritarian regimes, became the country’s first democratically-elected president in 2010.

But critics say his rule has become increasingly authoritarian. About 100 demonstrators have been shot dead by police since he came to power, according to the opposition.

Guinea Jails Protest Leaders For Up To 12 Months

Guinean policemen stand guard a road as protesters demonstrate in Conakry on October 14, 2019. A 16-year-old boy was killed and four other people were injured on October 14 when police in the Guinean capital Conakry opened fire in clashes with protestors, a doctor said. The incident happened in the suburb of Sonfonia Gare, on a day of demonstrations called to oppose constitutional changes that could enable 81-year-old President Alpha Conde to seek a third term in office. PHOTO: CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

A court in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Tuesday handed down jail terms of up to a year against the leaders of protests this month that have claimed up to 10 lives.

Abdourahamane Sanoh, coordinator of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups, was given a 12-month term, and four other leaders were sent down for six months.

They were found guilty of initiating a wave of unauthorised protests on October 14 that brought much of the West African state to a standstill.

The opposition says 10 protestors have been shot dead by police in successive days of clashes. The authorities put the toll at eight, plus a gendarme.

Dozens of people have been injured.

Lawyers for the defendants said they would file an appeal. Three other defendants were found not guilty.

The prosecutors had sought maximum sentences of five years for seven of the accused and fines of two million Guinean francs ($190, 194 euros).

The protests have been stirred by speculation that Conde, 81, plans to change the constitution in order to overcome a ban on seeking a third term in office.

A former opposition figure, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

But critics say his rule has become increasingly authoritarian. About 100 demonstrators have been killed by police gunfire since he came to power, according to the opposition.

AFP

Four Feared Dead As Guinea Protesters Clash With Police

Protesters burn tyres as they demonsrate in Conakry on October 14, 2019.  CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Four young demonstrators were killed in clashes between security forces and thousands of protesters in the Guinean capital Conakry on Monday, according to relatives and a doctor, as authorities said a gendarme had also been killed during the unrest.

The deaths occured during rallies called to oppose constitutional changes that could enable 81-year-old President Alpha Conde to seek a third term in office.

Pockets of violence erupted around the outer districts of Conakry, with some demonstrators setting up barricades, burning tires and throwing stones.

Hundreds of police and gendarmes responded with tear gas, stun grenades and real bullets, an AFP reporter saw.

The government confirmed only that a gendarme had been shot dead in the town of Mamou, east of the capital, adding that a resident in the city had been killed in unclear circumstances.

Tely Oury Bah, the father of one of the protesters, said his son Mamadou Lamarana Bah had been “coldly shot by a police officer”.

“I cannot even go to see the body at the hospital mortuary because there is no way through, the roads are blocked”, he said.

Earlier a local doctor said a 16-year-old boy had been killed and several others injured in the suburb of Sonfonia Gare.

The centre of the city, which hosts government offices and embassies, was under lockdown and almost deserted.

 Calls for more protest 

Residents and reporters in several other cities in the country reported disruption, with schools sending pupils home.

Interior Minister Bourema Conde said the protests were marked by acts “that threatened the lives of our citizens”.

Several people were arrested and “the security forces are in control of the situation and calm reigns in the majority of the country”, he said in a statement.

An alliance of unions, opposition parties and civil society groups called the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) had appealed for a massive turnout.

Police on Monday surrounded the house of the opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, who heads the opposition Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

“I ask Guineans to continue to protest and to block the way until the power understands that you cannot impose a dictatorship on us by force,” Toure told AFP by phone.

Alpha Conde is a former opposition figure who in 2010 became the West African state’s first democratically-elected president, but his tenure has been marred by a crackdown on protests.

Last month he called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring speculation that he is planning to overcome a constitutional bar on serving a third term. The next presidential ballot is due to be held late next year.

The opposition says about 100 people have been killed since 2010 when Conde took office. He won re-election five years later.

AFP

One Dead, Four Injured In Guinea Protests

Guinea Map

 

A 16-year-old boy was killed and four other people were injured Monday when police in the Guinean capital Conakry opened fire in clashes with protestors, a doctor said.

The incident happened in the suburb of Sonfonia Gare, on a day of demonstrations called to oppose constitutional changes that could enable 81-year-old President Alpha Conde to seek a third term in office.

In the district of Cosa, an opposition stronghold, police fired stun grenades and teargas against groups of protesters, an AFP reporter saw.

An alliance of unions, opposition parties and civil society groups called the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) had appealed for a massive turnout.

Conde is a former opposition figure who in 2010 became the West African state’s first democratically-elected president, but his tenure has been marred by a crackdown on protests.

Last month he called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring speculation that he is planning to overcome a constitutional bar on a third term. The next presidential ballot is due to be held late next year.

The opposition says about 100 people have been killed since Conde took office in 2010, winning re-election five years later.

About 20 people have been arrested since Saturday, according to the FNDC.

AFP

Guinean Opposition Calls For Fresh Demonstrations After Protest Crackdown

Guinea Map

 

An opposition coalition in Guinea on Monday called for demonstrations from October 14 despite a government crackdown on protests after President Alpha Conde sparked speculation he would seek a controversial third term.

Last month Conde, 81, called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring talk that he was planning to overcome a constitutional ban on a third term in office.

Conde is a former opposition figure who came to power in 2010, becoming the first democratically-elected president of Guinea, an impoverished former French colony in West Africa.

He was re-elected five years later but has questioned two-term limits and cracked down on protests against him seeking another term.

He has attracted criticism for deadly use of gunfire by police to quell demonstrations. Scores have been killed, according to the opposition.

Conde has not publicly called for constitutional change, although last month he tasked Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana with staging wide-ranging “consultations” on the national charter.

In a declaration published on Monday following an extraordinary meeting, the opposition coalition FNDC said it was “delighted” not to have taken part in the process.

It called it a “masquerade disguised under the label of consultations which was just a new delaying tactic intended to serve as an excuse to legitimise the process of constitutional coup undertaken by the Guinean authorities”.

The opposition umbrella group — the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) — was formed in April by the main opposition parties, civil society associations and trade unions to oppose a possible third term.

The coalition added that it was “calling for all Guineans” to mobilise by demonstrating from October 14.

Conde’s second term — the maximum under the present constitution — expires in October 2020.

Legislative elections should have been held last year, but were indefinitely postponed.

Conde has called for them to be held by the end of the year.

Human Rights Watch has meanwhile called on Conde to ensure opposition parties’ right to protest saying “a blanket ban” on demonstrations was not “a proportionate response to the risk of violence during protests”.

“The government of Guinea has effectively banned street protests for more than a year, citing threats to public security. Local authorities have prohibited at least 20 political or other demonstrations,” it said in a statement.

“Security forces have tear gassed those who defy the ban, and arrested dozens of demonstrators.”

HRW West Africa director Corinne Dufka said the right to peaceful protest was “a fundamental pillar of democratic governance”, adding that “the Guinean government should act quickly to find a way to respect the right to protest while protecting public safety”.

Guinea’s Alpha Conde Visits Buhari In Daura

 

President Alpha Conde of Guinea Saturday visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.

The aircraft conveying President Conde and his aide touched down at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport at about 4:35 pm.

On his arrival, he was received by the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, in company with his deputy, Mannir Yakubu, and the security chiefs in the state.

READ ALSO‘Extremism Is Like A Cancer,’ Buhari Challenges Muslims On Good Virtues

Others at the airport to receive the Guinean leader include members of the business and academic communities, religious and traditional leaders, among other dignitaries in the state.

Governor Masari, thereafter, escorted Mr Conde to President Buhari’s hometown in Daura in a helicopter at about 4:52 pm.

During the visit, the Guinean President met with the Emir of Daura, Farouk Umar.

See photos below:

 

President Buhari with President Alpha Conde, Governor Masari, and Emir of Daura in Daura, Katsina State on August 10, 2019.

Lightning Kills Six Children In Guinea

Guinea Map

 

Six children aged between four and 10 died after they were struck by lightning while making tea under a mango tree in north-eastern Guinea on Wednesday, a witness said.

The storm began shortly before 7:00 pm (1900 GMT) in the town of Siguiri, close to the border with Mali, witness Mamadi Doumbouya, a local resident, told AFP.

He said eight children in total, accompanied by two of their mothers, were under a mango tree at the back of his house.

“I invited everyone to take shelter in my living room. The ladies rushed under my roof but the children stayed behind to make the last cups of tea,” he added.

Lightning then struck the mango tree and when Doumbouya rushed out, all of the children were on the ground and unconscious, he said in a telephone call.

Six of the children — five girls and a four-year-old boy — died while being taken to hospital, he added.

A doctor from Siguiri Hospital said the six dead children were brought there in the early evening and two others were placed under observation for the coming days.

West Africa is currently undergoing its rainy season.

On Saturday a landslide hit a gold mine in the same area as Wednesday’s storm, killing four people including a two-year-old girl and her mother.

“The victims were working in a former gold mine where mining was banned because of the risk of landslides” in the heavy rains, “but people were hiding to go to the tunnels”, a Red Cross official said.

AFP

AFCON: Mahrez Helps Algeria Brush Guinea Aside To Reach Last Eight

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez (4th-L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Algeria and Guinea at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on July 7, 2019. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez scored for Algeria as they coasted to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory over Guinea in Cairo on Sunday.

Youcef Belaili put the Desert Foxes ahead on 24 minutes and former African Footballer of the Year Mahrez added a second after 57 minutes in the last-16 match at the 30 June Stadium.

Substitute Adam Ounas was on the field only five minutes when he completed the rout with eight minutes remaining, connecting with a low cross to give goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone no chance.

With hosts Egypt and Herve Renard-coached Morocco suffering stunning last-16 losses, many pundits are tipping Algeria to go all the way and add to their lone title, won in 1990.

They are the only nation among the 10 survivors boasting a 100 percent record having beaten Kenya, highly-rated Senegal and Tanzania in group matches to reach the knockout phase.

Algeria will face Cote d’Ivoire or Mali in a quarter-final in Suez on Thursday then, if successful, Nigeria or South Africa for a place in the July 19 final.

Coach Djamel Belmadi changed nine of the team that outclassed Tanzania in their final group game, restoring a host of first choices like Mahrez.

Guinea meanwhile were missing Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita after he was forced to leave Egypt owing to a recurrence of a groin injury sustained against Barcelona in May.

The referee was kept busy during physical early exchanges, booking Guinean Mady Camara and Algerian Adlane Guedioura within 14 minutes of the kick-off.

Mistaken identity

Camara was punished for a blatant foul on Mahrez, but Guedioura fired wide from the resultant free-kick close to the box.

Guedioura was then booked for a foul on Martinez Kante in a case of mistaken identity as big-screen replays showed the offender was Aissa Mandi.

Baghdad Bounedjah wasted a great chance to put Algeria ahead on 20 minutes when he controlled a Guedioura cross with his chest, then blazed wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Bounedjah, who came to the Cup of Nations after scoring 39 goals for Qatari champions Al Sadd last season, atoned for his miss by helping Algeria take the lead.

His backheel inside the penalty area allowed Belaili to beat Kone from the tightest of angles with a shot that went into the far corner of the net.

There were more fouls than goal attempts during the remainder of a niggly opening half that finished with Algeria retaining the 1-0 advantage.

Kante became the second Guinean to be yellow-carded, for fouling Djamel Benlamri, and coach Paul Put reacted by taking him off and sending on Fode Koita.

Koita was barely on the field when Algeria doubled their lead as Mahrez collected an Ismael Bennacer cross, cut inside Issiaga Sylla and sent Kone the wrong way.

The match had long ceased to be a contest when Ounas claimed his third goal of the competition, joining three other players at the top of the scoring charts.

AFP

AFCON 2019: Rohr, Musa Describe Group B As ‘Tough’

Nigerian Coach Gernot Rohr looks during the African Cup of Nations qualification match between Nigeria and Libya in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria, on October 13, 2018.
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Super Eagles’ head coach, Gernot Rohr and team captain, Ahmed Musa have described Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) group B pairing as a ‘tough one’, insisting that the team must be at its best to get out of it.

Nigeria was drawn in group B with Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi for the tournament holding in Egypt between 21 June – 19 July 2019.

“It is a tough group and we have to be at our best and our fittest. Guinea has a young, tough team and we will have to be at our best against them. Burundi eliminated Gabon even with their Pierre Aubameyang. Madagascar was the first team to qualify. It would be a great showpiece of football, but it is important for our players to avoid injuries as the season heads towards the end.”

READ ALSO: AFCON 2019: Nigeria Gets ‘Comfortable’ Group As Cameroon Faces Four-Times Winners Ghana

Also, Super Eagles’ captain Ahmed Musa said: “I think it is a tough group for the Super Eagles. It is important for us to stay fit and avoid injuries so that everyone would be in great shape in Egypt. We have a young team who have played at the World Cup but have not played at the AFCON. For me, we are ready for any country in Egypt. It would be an interesting experience.”

Rohr revealed that plans are in place for the team’s preparation with friendly games against “Ghana (in Nigeria), and maybe Senegal.”

The two top –placed teams in each group, as well as the best third –placed teams from four out of the six groups, will qualify for the knock-out rounds.

Nigeria will play its group games in Alexandria with fixtures against Burundi on June 22 (7pm), Guinea on June 26 (4.30pm) and Madagascar on June 30 (6pm).

GROUP A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

GROUP B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

GROUP C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

GROUP D: Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Namibia

GROUP E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

GROUP F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin Republic, Guinea Bissau

Guinea To Host 2025 Africa Cup Of Nations

 

Guinea has accepted to stage the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations instead of the 2023 edition, a move that confirms Cameroon as the 2021 hosts, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president said Monday.

“I am delighted with this change in the organisation of the calendar that will see the Nations Cup take place in Guinea in 2025 and I am proud that the president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, has himself accepted,” Ahmad Ahmad said.

Ahmad, who held talks with Conde on Sunday, told reporters it was a similar situation to Cameroon, which will stage the 2021 tournament having been stripped of hosting this year’s edition.

In 2014, CAF awarded hosting rights to Cameroon (2019), Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023).

Following the decision to remove this year’s edition from Cameroon because of severe delays in building stadiums and security concerns, Egypt and South Africa have bid to step in as hosts.

CAF will announce on Wednesday which of the two countries has won the right to host the tournament, with the clock ticking to the June 15 kickoff.

Ivory Coast will now host the tournament in 2023.

AFP

Police Fire Tear Gas On Opposition Protesters In Guinea

Guinea Map

 

Policemen fired tear gas and used batons on Thursday to break up an anti-government protest by hundreds of opposition supporters in the heart of the Guinean capital Conakry.

The political opposition has been demonstrating against what it considers a violation by the authorities of an agreement reached in August over the appointment of local government officials elected in a hotly disputed vote on February 4.

An AFP correspondent said police cordoned off the area around parliament in the morning and warned demonstrators that they would be tear-gassed if they breached the barricades.

Some 500 mostly youth demonstrators tried to force their way in but were beaten back with batons and had tear gas fired on them.

Four of them suffered light injuries, an AFP correspondent said.

Earlier this month, police fired tear gas to break up a similar protest. They have also blocked several hundred women from gathering in the streets of Conakry to demand “justice” for people killed in a series of bloody crackdowns.

The opposition says dozens of protesters have been killed by police gunfire at peaceful demonstrations since President Alpha Conde came to power in December 2010.

At a cabinet meeting last week, Conde justified a measure to beef up troops in the seaside capital and in areas “deemed to be dangerous” and underscored that “maintaining order remains the monopoly of the police and the gendarmerie.”

AFP