Man Shot Dead During Campaign Clashes In Guinea

 

A man was shot dead Wednesday in a central Guinean city shaken by clashes since the prime minister visited it the day before to campaign for President Alpha Conde’s re-election.

Security forces on Wednesday shot and killed Habib Petel Diallo, 20, during a protest in the city of Dalaba against the premier’s visit, the man’s brother Lamine Diallo said.

A police officer who asked not to be named said the young man had died with a shot to the head.

Guinean authorities have not officially confirmed the death.

The latest incident in Dalaba follows dozens of deaths in previously anti-government protests, during demonstrations against a third presidential term for Alpha Conde since October last year.

The 82-year-old president has pushed through a new constitution in March that allowed him to reset the two-term presidential limit to zero, and run again in the October 18 election.

Wednesday’s killing occurred in the Fouta-Djalon region, a bastion of the main opposition candidate contesting the election, Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Protesters on Tuesday had pelted rocks at Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana’s convoy in two cities in the region: Labe and Dalaba. Several people were injured, the government said Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the government said the incident was part of a “concerted plan to sabotage the electoral process”. Fofana is Conde’s campaign manager.

Cellou Dalein Diallo’ UFDG party has denied involvement in the attack, according to local press reports, with some party officials casting doubt on the government’s account.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the details of the incident.

Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010, winning re-election five years later.

Rights groups have accused him of drifting into authoritarianism, however.

This month, the president drew criticism for apparently stoking ethnic tensions ahead of the October election.

In a campaign speech delivered in the Malinke language, the president told voters that backing an opposition Malinke candidate amounted to voting for Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Guinea’s politics are mostly drawn along ethnic lines. President Conde’s party is largely backed by Malinke people, and Diallo’s UFDG by Fulani people, although both insist that they are pluralist.

Diallo is a former prime minister who was heavily involved in the protest campaign against a Conde a third term.

 

 

-AFP

Guinea Election A ‘War,’ Says President

The President of Guinea Alpha Conde (C), arrives at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African heads of States which is being held in the Ethiopian capital on February 10, 2020.
Michael TEWELDE / AFP

 

Guinean President Alpha Conde has urged his base to rally behind him in next month’s election, where he is controversially seeking a third term, referring to a “war” between his government and the embattled opposition.

Voters go to the polls on October 18, where 11 candidates are contesting Conde’s leadership of the West African state.

The 82-year-old president is also running, after having this year pushed through a constitutional referendum allowing him to reset the two-term presidential limit to zero.

In a speech broadcast Tuesday evening, Conde warned that “this election is not just an election, it’s as if we were at war”.

“The other candidates have formed a bloc to fight me,” he said in the Malinke language, referring to an agreement between opposition candidates to highlight credibility issues in the election.

The speech comes amid suspicions about the credibility of Guinea’s electoral roll, which opposition figures have suggested includes an inflated number of registered voters in Conde strongholds in the east.

It also comes after the president made an apparent appeal for ethnic support, in a similar campaign speech broadcast on Saturday.

He warned voters not to back an opposition Malinke candidate, for example, arguing that this would amount to a vote for Cellou Dalein Diallo, from the leading opposition party UFDG.

Guinea’s politics are mostly drawn along ethnic lines. President Conde’s party is largely backed by Malinke people, and the UFDG by Fulani people, although both insist that they are pluralist.

“You haven’t forgotten what happened after the death of Sekou Toure,” Conde said on Saturday, referring to instability following the death of Guinea’s first president in 1984 when looters targeted Malinke homes.

Rights groups accuse Conde — who is a former opposition figure himself — of drifting into authoritarianism.

Several dozen people were killed during a crackdown on protests against the president running for a third term, which erupted in October last year, for example.

AFP

Guinea, Togo Extend COVID-19 Restrictions

 

The West African states of Guinea and Togo announced late Tuesday that they were extending exceptional measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Guinean President Alpha Conde, in a decree read on national television, said restrictions would be extended by another month from Thursday, while in Togo, Prime Minister Selom Komi Klassou said a “health state of emergency” would be carried forward for another six months.

Guinea imposed nationwide measures on March 26 that have been repeatedly rolled over since then.

Some measures, such as closures of schools and borders, have been eased but others, including restrictions on public gatherings, remain in place.

Critics accuse the authorities of using anti-coronavirus laws to gag protests and political rallies in the runup to tense presidential elections on October 18.

One of the world’s poorest states, Guinea has recorded 10,111 cases of coronavirus, 63 of them fatal.

Togo’s parliament gave the government a six-month approval for anti-coronavirus measures on March 30, and the latest extension was approved unanimously, Klassou said.

The country has registered 1,595 coronavirus infections, 40 of them fatal, but the tally rose after the country reopened its airports on August 1.

“With this extension, we have 180 days to provide further protection for our fellow citizens, their work (and) purchasing power, to preserve our children’s school careers and remake our lifestyle while pursuing economic and social development,” he said.

AFP

COVID-19: Six Guineans Killed In Clashes With Police During Protests

 

 

Six people were killed in clashes with police in Guinea during protests over roadblocks erected to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, police said Tuesday.

“There were five deaths in Coyah and one in Dubreka,” police spokesman Mory Kaba told AFP, referencing two towns near the capital Conakry.

The police said crowds were protesting against the roadblocks set up to control traffic between the capital and the rest of the country.

The protesters said they were tired of being mistreated and extorted by police at the capital’s entrances and exits, according to witnesses.

Guinea is one of the West African countries worst-hit by the virus. According to the official figures there have been 2,213 cases resulting in 11 deaths.

The impoverished country has a poor sanitation system, which has raised fears of a more severe epidemic.

The Ebola virus killed 2,500 people in Guinea between 2013 and 2016

Guinea’s Conde Leaves Door Open To Running For Third Term

The President of Guinea Alpha Conde (C), arrives at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African heads of States which is being held in the Ethiopian capital on February 10, 2020. Michael TEWELDE / AFP

 

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde on Monday left the door open to running for a third term, saying there was “nothing more democratic” than his planned constitutional referendum, which the opposition calls a ploy for him to retain power.

The West African country’s current constitution prohibits Conde from running for a third term, but asked if he would stand for president again, he told French media that it was for his party to decide.

The ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party “can nominate me as it can nominate someone else. For the moment, it is not my concern,” he told France 24 and RFI radio.

The country’s opposition, which has long suspected Conde of seeking to retain power, has led protests since mid-October that have rocked the country and left at least 28 civilians and one police officer dead.

Conde, 81, was a longtime opposition figure who became the nation’s first-ever elected president in 2010 on promises to fight corruption. He was re-elected in 2015.

But he has questioned the relevance of restricting the presidency to two terms.

While a draft constitution maintains the two-term limit, critics fear Conde could use the new text to reset the clock and allow himself two more mandates.

Conde defended the referendum on Monday, saying his current concern was to “endow the country with a constitution that meets the needs of today’s world.”

He said his priorities included “equality between men and women, the fight against genital mutilation, girls being married before the age of 18, and above all the correct sharing of resources,” especially for “the young and the vulnerable”.

“If we want a modern constitution, what is more democratic than a referendum? The British prime minister held a referendum and lost. (Former French president Charles) de Gaulle held a referendum and lost. There is nothing more democratic.”

Last week the US said it was concerned by the planned vote.

“We question whether the process will be free, fair and transparent and accurately reflect the will of all eligible voters,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The European Union meanwhile has said that “unity and peace in Guinea must prevail over partisan interests”.

AFP

Guinea Postpones Elections Again, As Protests Continue

Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president's suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP
Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president’s suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Guinea’s president announced Monday that parliamentary elections initially due in late 2018 would once again be postponed, as the country grapples with long-running opposition protests.

President Alpha Conde said parliamentary elections would be pushed back by two weeks — from February 16 to March 1 — but offered no explanation.

The current parliament continues to sit despite beginning a five-year term in January 2014.

READ ALSO: Army Deploys 185 Troops To Guinea Bissau On Peacekeeping Operation

Anti-Conde demonstrators have been taking to the streets since last October in protests marked by violence in which 26 people have died, according to an AFP count.

Opposition parties see the elections as a manoeuvre by Conde to strengthen his power and have promised to boycott the poll and try to stop it taking place.

Last month, Conde’s government floated the idea of holding a referendum on constitutional reform in February.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically- elected president in 2010 and was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution.

His critics suspect he wants to use the installation of a new constitution as a way of continuing in office for a third term.

AFP

Guinea Set To Vote Over New Constitution Despite Protests

Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president's suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP
Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president’s suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde is set to hold a constitutional referendum next month, government sources said, despite protests led by an opposition alliance fearful that the poll is a ploy to enable him to stay in office.

The announcement of a referendum date is likely to further heighten tensions in the West African nation of 13 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite considerable mineral resources.

On Thursday, three people were killed in clashes with security forces in the opposition stronghold of Labe, the city’s mayor said.

At least 26 civilians and one gendarme have died in protests to date, according to an AFP tally.

The referendum may be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections on February 16, a source close to the president’s office told AFP Thursday, asking not to be named.

The cabinet asked the 81-year-old Conde “to fix an appropriate date for holding the referendum”, the government said in a statement late Thursday.

“This electoral timetable will be the object of a presidential decree,” it said.

Guinea has seen major demonstrations against Conde’s rule since mid-October, with a harsh crackdown.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution.

When he announced his plan of putting a new constitution to the electorate in December, the opposition voiced suspicions that he sought to start his time in office afresh with an election late in 2020.

A draft constitution presented in December still limits the number of presidential terms to two.

Conde has simply argued that laws from the French colonial era need to be amended, with no reference to the presidential mandate.

Tens of thousands of people have been called out on the streets against a possible third term by an alliance of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society organisations.

Conde on Thursday ordered his security and justice ministers “to take all necessary steps to restore peace and security in the zones that have been affected in the past few days by acts of disorder, looting and vandalism,” according to the government.

 

AFP

Guinea Opposition Suspends Anti-Government Protests

 

People march with the Guinean national flag as they take part in a protest against the third term of the Guinean President, on November 7, 2019 in Conakry. Crowds of protesters marched through the Guinean capital of Conakry on November 7 in the latest round of demonstrations against President Alpha Conde, accused of trying to circumvent a bar on a third term in office.
CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Guinea’s opposition has announced the suspension of protests against President Alpha Conde’s suspected bid to prolong his rule, after days of demonstrations that left at least three people dead.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups, raised the stakes last week and called for “huge” and “open-ended” demonstrations.

The unrest was sparked by concerns that Conde intends to use a planned constitutional reform to seek a third term in office.

But the FNDC said it was “suspending the protests from January 15”, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

The suspension was called to allow for the “calm burial of our victims and for Guineans to restock” basic goods.

Conde, 81, has neither confirmed nor denied the claim that he put forward a draft constitution last month with the intention of keeping himself in office for a third term.

The current constitution in the former French colony stipulates a maximum of two presidential terms.

The campaign period for legislative elections scheduled for February 16 will begin on Thursday at midnight, according to a presidential decree read by state media Wednesday.

The opposition has announced that it will boycott the ballot and prevent it from being held.

The West African country has been wracked by demonstrations since mid-October and more than 20 people have been killed since the start of protests, which have drawn hundreds of thousands of people, while scores have been arrested.

Since Monday, three have been killed, including one in Conakry and two in the northern city of Labe, according to the victims’ families, security and medical officials.

AFP

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.

AFP

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