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Guinea Protest Fatalities Said to be Rising

Opposition protesters disperse after tear gas is fired in their midst, in Conakry, Guinea, February 27, 2013 file photo.
Opposition protesters disperse after tear gas is fired in their midst, in Conakry, Guinea, February 27, 2013 file photo.
Two of Guinea’s top opposition leaders are said to have gone to Paris, France to brief the international community about the current political situation in Guinea.

Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea and Lansana Kouyate, former Prime Minister and leader of the Party of Hope for National Development flew to Paris over the weekend following violent protests Thursday and Saturday last week over the planning of parliamentary elections scheduled for June 30.

Mamadou Dian Balde, editor-in-chief of the Independent and Democrat newspapers, said a total of 15 people were killed by security forces during the two days of protests.

But the government denies its security forces targeted protesters. Instead it said the victims had been attacked by fellow protesters.

Balde said the figure of 15 victims was provided by hospital sources.

“Today, the situation is calm, but from Thursday to Saturday night, there were riots in Conakry and 15 people have been killed, most of them by guns fired by soldiers. The victims were demonstrating against the date of the election which has been fixed for June 30,” he said.

The opposition says it was not consulted before the elections commission announced June 30 as the date for the long-delayed legislative election.
Butty interview with Balde
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Balde said there has been no official communication from the opposition since the latest violence.

“Opposition leaders Lansana Kouyate and Cellou Dalein Diallo are going to Paris to speak to the international community about the situation in Guinea. Sydia Toure is here, but there hasn’t been any communication [from him] about what happened during the last three days,” he said.

Balde said the Alpha Conde government has condemned the violence and promised to punish those it said are responsible for the violence.

“The government said that there some criminals among the demonstrators, and that those people are responsible the situation. So they said that they will take a major decision against this kind of situation,” he said.

Balde said while the electoral commission known as CENI says it can hold a successful parliamentary election on June 30, most analysts do not think that date is possible.

The opposition is also concerned about the government’s selection of Waymark, a South African company, to revise the voter list. It said Waymark was chosen selected without going through a competitive bidding process.

But Balde said it is unlikely that President Conde’s government will part with Waymark.

“I don’t think President Conde will accept to change Waymark because Waymark has already registered electors. So maybe the government can postpone the date, but I don’t think it will accept changing Waymark,” Balde said.