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Clashes as Guinea police crack down on protest


Guinea security forces clashed with protesters on Thursday as they tried to break up a rally against a government decision to hold a long-delayed election in June, leaving a number of people injured.

An AFP journalist at the scene counted at least 25 injured, and saw several people, including opposition officials, arrested in the latest protest against the legislative election to turn violent.

The poll, which has been postponed several times in the past two years, has become a powder keg in the west African nation as it tries to move on from decades of dictators, coups and political violence.

Initially set down for mid-2011 after the country's first ever democratic vote, the election has prompted repeated protests by opposition members who fear it will not be free and transparent.

The most recent date of May 12 was abandoned after violent opposition protests broke out in late February leaving nine dead and more than 240 injured.

Thursday's protest was called to denounce the government's "unilateral" decision to announce the new date on June 30.

Protesters clashed with police in areas of the capital Conakry seen as favourable to the opposition, where they had planned to gather ahead of a march downtown.

But they were dispersed with tear gas by baton-wielding officers, who also blocked a convoy of opposition leaders heading to the protest.

Police official Ansoumane Camara told journalists the protesters followed a different route than that authorised by the local government

The last legislative elections in the country were held in 2002 under then president Lansana Conte who ruled the former French colony for 24 years until his death in December 2008, prompting a disastrous coup marked by extreme police brutality.