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Guineans in Senegal Register to Vote Amid Aftermath of a Violent Massacre


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Guineans living in Senegal registered to vote this week for the anticipated presidential elections in 2010. Many living in Dakar expressed their desire for change after government troops killed dozens of protestors this week.

Outside of the Guinea embassy in neighboring Senegal, dozens of Guineans stood in line to register to vote. Registration ends this week, just days after government security forces killed more than 157 demonstrators in the capital Conakry.

Mamadou Alioune Ba, whose parents are both from Guinea, said it was vitally important that Guineans now chose a civil leader for their country in the upcoming elections, which are scheduled to take place in January 2010.

"What we want right now is somebody intellectual, not a soldier," said Mamadou Alioune Ba. "It's enough. Since independence until right now you know we've had just soldiers in power."

Friday marked 51 years of independence for the former French colony. The celebrations in Guinea's capital were somber, as the population recovers from this week's violence.

Monday more than 50,000 protestors gathered at a stadium to oppose the anticipated presidential candidacy of current military leader Moussa Dadis Camara. Government security forces opened fire on the crowd, killing protestors. The Guinean government put the death toll at 57, while local human rights groups said 157 were killed and more than 1,000 wounded.

Ba says he was shocked by the images he saw on television and it made him doubt Captain Camara's sincerity.

"How can you say you love your country people and you open fire on them? You kill many of them," said Ba. "It is not good. We want is Camara to go out. We do not want Captain Camara under power."

Captain Camara originally came to power last December, when he led a bloodless coup hours after the death of longtime president Lansana Conte. After taking power, Camara promised he would not run for office in the expected 2009 elections. But in August he postponed the elections until January 2010. And he has told his supporters he will not insult them by ignoring their demands that he run for president.

Al-Hussein Bari, another Guinean lined up to register to vote in Dakar this week, says he hopes to vote for opposition leader and former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo.

He wants Diallo, because he is not in the military. Bari adds, if you want change, you have to vote.

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