Guinea bans protest as political tensions rise


Guinea banned an opposition march planned for next week, saying it could spark new unrest in the West African state which only last year freed itself from chaotic junta rule.

Rivals to President Alpha Conde have called for a halt to preparations for parliamentary elections set for Dec. 29, accusing the national electoral body of trying to rig them in Conde’s favour.
“It’s not the march which is the problem it is the idea behind it,” Territorial Administration Minister Alassane Conde told Reuters of a protest due on Monday in Conakry by the main opposition party leader Cellou Dallein Diallo and others, Reuters reports.
“They just want to create trouble to prevent investors coming into the country … They did not even seek authorisation for it,” added Conde.

Faya Millimono, a spokesman for the opposition collective which includes Diallo’s UFDG party, criticised the ban and said as far as he was aware, the march would go ahead.
“As things stands, I have seen nothing that says we won’t protest. We want this protest to be peaceful,” he added.

Guinea is the world’s largest bauxite exporter and is coveted by multinationals for its iron ore and other reserves.

The Dec. 29 election is due to complete the transition to civilian rule from the junta which seized power after the December 2008 of longtime leader Lansana Conte.

The low point of military rule was the Sept. 28, 2009 killings of over 150 protesters by security forces also held responsible for mass rapes of women present. Junta leaders finally agreed to hand over power in a June 2010 election.

In a report issued on Friday, the International Crisis Group think-tank said Conde had not done enough to promote conciliation with political rivals, leading to a climate of mistrust over the holding of the elections.
“Rising pre-electoral tensions could spark inter-communal violence and offer an opportunity to take action for those in the army unhappy about loss of power,” it warned.