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Guinean Journalist Doubts Opposition Will Meet Government

Paramilitary police clash with bodyguard of opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, as they detain him after stopping Diallo's convoy on the way to a protest march in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 27, 2011.

Guinean Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana has invited members of the political opposition to a meeting Friday aimed at reaching agreement on parliamentary elections scheduled December 29.

Opposition rejection of the proposed date has led to deadly protests this week in which at least two people were killed and over 300 arrested.

Mamadou Dian Balde, editor-in-chief of the Independent and Democrat newspapers, said it is unlikely the opposition parties will attend the meeting.

“I think that the opposition won’t go to meet the government because the political parties asked the government to liberate the prisoners," he said. "You know that 322 demonstrators had been arrested on Tuesday when they were demonstrating against the government. They must be freed before going to meet the government for a meeting.”

Balde also said the opposition is also demanding the government institute democratic reforms before the parliamentary election.

“They [the opposition parties] asked also for the electoral commission to stop its work because the electoral commission had started to register people for the next election, and the opposition is not in agreement with what the electoral commission is doing,” Balde said.

He said the opposition parties are demanding these reforms because they are not sure if the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is independent enough.

“The opposition [parties] is fighting now against the government about the next election because they think that the electoral commission is working on the orders of the government. So, they are not sure that the electoral commission is independent,” he said.

Balde said he’s not sure if the government President Alpha Conde would be able to meet the demands of the opposition parties.

“It won’t be easy because the people who have been arrested, the government said, their trial must start Friday and some of them might be condemned,” Balde said.

He said democracy in Guinea will always have problems even with a civilian president unless the electoral commission becomes truly independent as in the case of Ghana and other countries.