Guinea opposition to renew protests as U.N.-led talks founder


Guinean opposition leaders called for renewed protests next week, accusing President Alpha Conde of sabotaging U.N.-mediated talks aimed at ending the impasse over the organization of a parliamentary election.

The opposition, which accuses the president of attempting to rig the long-delayed election, due to take place on June 30, suspended protests last week to allow the talks to take place.

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 300 others wounded in clashes between opposition supporters, security forces and Conde’s backers since March, Reuters reports.

Aside from being the world’s top producer of the aluminum ore bauxite, Guinea possesses vast untapped reserves of gold, iron ore and diamonds but the long-term political instability has deterred investment.
“We wanted to give dialogue a chance, but we saw that no hand was extended. There was no initiative aiming to calm the situation,” opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla told journalists.

He said demonstrations would resume on May 22 and would eventually extend across the West African nation.

The opposition says Conde’s allies on the elections commission set the date of the poll without consulting them.

They are also demanding that South African firm Waymark be stripped of a contract to revise the voter list and that the mostly opposition-aligned Guinean diaspora be allowed to vote.

The government has rejected the demands and had no immediate reaction to the opposition’s call for more demonstrations.

Conde was elected in 2010 in the former French colony’s first democratic transfer of power since 1958.

The legislative election, originally due to take place in 2011, is meant to complete Guinea’s transition back to civilian rule after the army seized power in 2008 upon the death of longtime leader Lansana Conte.