Guinea police clash with election security forces

AP News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2010 6:41 PM
Guinea police clash with election security forces

Two political demonstrators were killed by police in Guinea's capital, a political party official said Tuesday, in one of several violent street clashes ahead of a planned presidential poll.

Meanwhile, junta leader Gen. Sekouba Konate named a Malian citizen to head the national independent electoral commission after consultations with international diplomats _ a move that overcomes a key obstacle to holding Sunday's long-delayed presidential runoff.

In a decree issued late Tuesday, Sekouba named Siaka Toumani Sangare of the Organisation International de la Francophonie _ the global French-speaking community, to the post. The exceptional move was welcomed by political rivals in the West African nation.

Disagreements over the makeup of Guinea's electoral commission have divided country and threatened to cause yet another delay of the presidential runoff due Sunday that could choose the country's first democratically elected leader.

Maka Balde, spokesman for the Union for the Democratic Forces of Guinea, said two men who supported his party were killed during a clash between police, security forces and party supporters.

Earlier Tuesday, a witness said police forces in Guinea's capital clashed with security forces and UFDG supporters.

Tamba Millimono, a resident of the Cosa neighborhood in Conakry, said earlier Tuesday that police forces also shot live ammunition in various neighborhoods that support presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo. Millimono said police were also hitting Diallo's supporters with belts and fighting those who are throwing stones at them. Diallo is the main candidate for UFDG.

Diallo said Monday that some of his supporters were also wounded during a march on Monday.

An election board official also said Tuesday that 17 computers had disappeared from the board's offices. Thierno Ceydou Bayo said the computers, which were to be used to calculate poll results, were hidden and there was no sign that anyone forced entry to the room in which they were stored. He said he was not sure how the computers' disappearance might affect the upcoming poll. But he described the event as having "the air of an act of sabotage" aimed at disrupting the vote.

Growing discord over the Oct. 24 presidential runoff is dividing the West African country and threatening to cause yet another delay of the poll, which could be the country's first free and fair vote since winning independence from France 52 years ago.