Guinea opposition says it will return to election talks

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 07, 2013 1:35 PM
Guinea opposition says it will return to election talks

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea's opposition said on Sunday it would reopen talks with the government on preparations for legislative elections after the ruling party agreed to its conditions.

Parliamentary polls are a final step in Guinea's transition to civilian rule after a 2008 military putsch, but they have been repeatedly delayed due to opposition complaints about how they are being organized.

"The government has accepted all of our conditions. So we will return to the negotiating table," said Aboubacar Sylla, a spokesman for the opposition coalition, adding that an opposition protest planned for Monday had been canceled.

He said the government had agreed to suspend the work of the electoral commission during the negotiations and to release some opposition supporters detained in a recent rash of deadly street protests against the polls.

A government spokesman confirmed that talks were slated to resume, but did not provide details.

Guinea's opposition has repeatedly accused the government of seeking to pre-rig the legislative elections, currently scheduled for May, and has called for the cancellation of South African firm Waymark's contract to revise the electoral list.

A series of opposition street protests over the election since early last year has triggered violent street clashes in the world's top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite. Scores have been injured and several killed.

Guinea's opposition leaders on March 26 said they had abandoned talks with the government and threatened to resume street protests, accusing the president's camp of disrespecting the terms of a planned dialogue over election preparations.

The legislative election is meant to be the last step in a drawn-out transition to civilian rule after a coup in late 2008 was followed by two bloody years with the army in charge.

The political uncertainty has led to billions of dollars in mining investments being put on ice and hit Guinea's economy last year, with the mining-dependent economy registering 3.9 percent growth, 1 percentage point lower than forecast.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Stephen Powell)