One person was killed and about were 10 injured when security forces and supporters of Guinea’s president clashed with protesters marching in the capital against planned legislative elections.
President Alpha Conde’s opponents say he plans to rig the long-delayed polls due to take place on June 30. Conde took office in 2010 following the first democratic transfer of power in the mineral-rich nation since independence in 1958.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon at the demonstrators, who deviated from an approved route and marched on one of Conakry’s main highways, a Reuters witness said.
The marchers burned tires and clashed with Conde supporters. Later, witnesses heard gunfire in the Bambeto neighborhood, an opposition stronghold, and one person was killed, Reuters reports.
“He was hit in the right side by a bullet that exited near his heart. He died at the scene,” said Talatou Barry, a relative of the victim, 28-year-old trader Abdoul Gadiri Diallo.
The government confirmed one person had been killed but said the circumstances remained unclear.
Witnesses saw numerous injured protesters carried away from the demonstration.
“We’ve admitted around 10 wounded, including opposition leaders … The situation for some of the injured is fairly serious,” a doctor at a private clinic told Reuters.
Among the wounded was Baïdy Aribot, leader of the AFAG opposition party and a former minister of youth and sports, who witnesses said had been hit in the shoulder by a bullet.
The government said some of the marchers had been armed with knives and clubs. It confirmed that 10 people had been wounded, blaming the injuries on the demonstrators themselves.
“These over-excited demonstrators, desiring to reach at all costs the motorway in violation of the approved itinerary … attacked their own political leaders,” said government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara.
At least 19 people have been killed in clashes since March in Conakry and over 300 others have been wounded.
Opposition leaders temporarily suspended demonstrations earlier this month to allow U.N.-brokered talks with the government to take place but later called for renewed protests, accusing Conde of sabotaging the negotiations.
The opposition says Conde did not consult them before announcing the June poll date and says voter lists are being revised in favor of the president’s political allies.
They also demand that Guineans abroad be allowed to vote.
The election, first scheduled for 2011, is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule after a military coup in 2008 but has been postponed several times.
Despite vast deposits of gold, iron ore and diamonds, global miners Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale have slowed billions of dollars of investments in the west African nation, citing political uncertainty as one of the reasons.