Connect to share and comment

UPDATE 1-Guinea activist dies after election clashes -opposition

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* Opposition says one death from Wednesday protest

* Say preparations for May election flawed

* Government says 130 wounded including 68 officers (Adds one death from protest)

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A Guinea activist died on Thursday from wounds suffered during clashes a day earlier between security forces and protesters in the run up to a divisive parliamentary election, a spokesman for the opposition said.

Clashes broke out between rock-throwing youths and officers armed with truncheons and teargas after thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets accusing the government of planning to rig the May poll.

Aboubacar Sylla, a spokesman of the opposition coalition, said one of their supporters died on Thursday from wounds he suffered during the Wednesday clashes. The death was also confirmed by a doctor at a hospital in Conakry.

The election set for May 12 is intended to be the last step in Guinea's transition to civilian rule after two years under a army junta following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte in 2008. The country is the world's top supplier of bauxite, the raw material in aluminium.

The government called for calm on Thursday saying 130 people were hurt in Wednesday's riots, including 68 members of the security forces, two of whom were in a critical condition.

"The street is not the place to resolve political disagreements," said government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara.

Camara said the government was aware of the death of a protester, but could not say how it happened.

Police in riot gear were posted in opposition strongholds in the capital on Thursday. Many shops were closed and debris, including burned tyres and rocks, littered the streets.

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost narrowly to President Alpha Conde in a 2010 election, accused the security forces of cracking down harshly on demonstrators, adding some were arrested and beaten.

FRANCE CALLS FOR CALM

"The president of the republic has a crucial responsibility to create peace. He needs to agree to listen to others, to respect his adversaries," he said.

Conde was attending a regional summit in Ivory Coast during the protests.

Guinea's opposition coalition called for widespread protests in Conakry after announcing last week it would boycott preparations for the election, saying they were flawed.

The opposition says the elections commission chose the poll date unilaterally and that two companies contracted to update voter rolls have skewed the lists in Conde's favour. They also want Guineans living abroad to be allowed to vote.

Conde won the 2010 presidential election promising prosperity for the former French colony's 10 million people whose economy produces only about $1.50 per person per day despite a wealth of natural resources, including the world's largest untapped iron ore deposit.

The European Union, a major donor, warned in November that it needed a credible and detailed timeline for the election to unblock about 174 million euros ($229 million) in aid. (Additional reporting by John Irish; Writing by Richard Valdmanis and Bate Felix; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130228/update-1-guinea-activist-dies-after-election-clashes-opposition