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At Least 15 Injured in Guinea Protests

  • Anne Look

Supporters of Guinea's opposition hold a banner reading "Transparente Elections. Sign of Peace" during an opposition rally in Conakry (file)
DAKAR - Security forces in Guinea clashed with opposition demonstrators in Conakry on Thursday, injuring at least 15 people. Opposition leaders have promised daily protests as they press for greater transparency in the organization of delayed legislative elections.

What began as a peaceful opposition march descended into violence that shut down the city for several hours.

A VOA reporter on the scene said security forces fired tear gas to disperse protestors and that clashes erupted among marchers, security forces and supporters of the ruling party. The violence occurred when demonstrators tried to pass the ruling party headquarters.

Opposition leader, Cellou Dallein Diallo, addressed the demonstrators.

Diallo asked, "You aren't afraid of tear gas or even bullets, are you?" to which the crowd yelled, "No!" Diallo said the marchers are calling for respect for their rights and that they will take to the streets again on Friday, and will continue to do so until they achieve victory.

The opposition is demanding the reorganization of the electoral commission and an audit of the voter rolls.

Opposition leader Sidya Toure said they suspect the government of trying to rig the elections in favor of the president's party.

Toure said they are not going to accept the "electoral holdup." Toure said the demonstrators want to show the government that the nation is opposed to fraud.

Guinea has a history of violent, and sometimes deadly, clashes between security forces and protestors.

Dr. Ibrahima Balde of the Mother and Child Center says his clinic treated 15 wounded demonstrators.

Balde says there were several serious injuries, including blows to the head, face and limbs.

Guinea's legislative elections were expected in May 2011 -- six months after President Alpha Conde's inauguration. Last week, President Conde again pushed back the vote, which had been set for July 8. He pointed to "technical reasons" related to voter registration and the revision of voter lists. No new date has been set.

The elections are seen as the final step of what has been a tumultuous transition to democracy following a 2008 military coup d'état and 50 years of authoritarian rule.

The National Transition Council, put in place in 2010, serves as the nation's parliament. Guinea last held legislative elections in 2002.