Protests Erupt in Guinea’s CapitalApril 21, 2015 in Guinea
On Monday, anti-government activists staged new protests following deadly clashes that erupted last week.
Guinean security forces took to the streets of the capital Conakry on Monday as new protests were launched. Calling for a disputed election timetable to be dismissed, hundreds of youths burnt tyres and barricaded roads across the capital city. Police officers responded with tear gas, which led to brief clashes erupting between the protesters and policemen. In a statement released late Monday, the government disclosed that a trainee policeman, who was apparently shot by protesters, had been seriously wounded, adding that two demonstrators were arrested after they caused extensive damage.
Former Prime Minister Sidya Toure, of the Union of Republic Forces (UFR), however claimed “another very successful day for the opposition, which has paralyzed the entire city.” UFR officials indicated that police had fired tear gas at their headquarters as the protesters got underway, with one official indicating that pro-government demonstrators threw stones at the UFR building while police stood by. Toure later stated that “as soon as demonstrations start in Conakry, they always start by hitting the UFR headquarters with tear gas to prevent us from mobilising and going out.” He further indicated that the authorities were desperate to avoid demonstrations on the nearby Fidel Castro highway as “if this route is blocked as well as the Prince highway, its finished for Conakry.”
In a statement released early Monday, Governor Soriba Sorel Camara stated that he expected that the Guinean opposition would be “throwing stones, dumping garbage and burning tyres on public roads,” noting that protests were going ahead despite the capital city still being affected by the Ebola outbreak. Camara called on residents of Conakry to “go about their usual activities,” adding that the state would ensure their safety and secure their property.
Schools, shops and petrol stations remained closed across the capital on Monday, with the Prince highway, which is the main route from the suburbs into central Conakry, almost deserted.
The violence comes after a Guinean government delegation met with opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo for talks at his home on Sunday. A statement released by the delegation indicated, “this step was intended to reiterate to the opposition the government’s willingness to revive the dialogue – the only route that ends with a calmer political climate and inclusive elections.” While Diallo confirmed late Sunday that he had received a group of senior officials, he warned that cancelling Monday’s protests was “out of the question” without the guaranteed implementation of a 2013 agreement stipulating that local elections take place before a presidential contest announced for October.
Diallo’s supporters claim that the electoral timetable was pushed through without consultations and that it gives the ruling party an unfair advantage. They have also blamed President Alpha Conde’s government on the current fragile security situation in the West African country.
Monday’s protests follow violence that erupted last Monday and Tuesday, which saw hundreds of youths throwing stones at police, who responded with tear gas and warning shots. At the time, the opposition indicated that thee people were killed, including an unidentified young girl, and that 50 were wounded during the clashes, with at least 12 wounded by gunfire. The government however placed the number of dead ad two, with dozens injured.