At least three killed in violent Guinea election protest

Reuters News
Posted: May 03, 2013 7:08 PM
At least three killed in violent Guinea election protest

CONAKRY (Reuters) - At least three people died on Friday on the second day of violent street protests that have swept the Guinean capital over the organization of delayed legislative elections, witnesses and officials said.

Guinea's opposition parties have accused President Alpha Conde, who took office in 2010 following Guinea's first democratic transfer of power since 1958, of trying to rig the polls in the world's largest bauxite exporter.

The opposition, which says Conde did not consult them before announcing the poll date, has called on its supporters to protest until Conde backs down and calls off the June 30 poll.

It has also demanded South African firm Waymark be stripped of a contract to revise the voter list.

The Guinean government has rejected the opposition demands.

Guinean government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara, said the three people were killed during the protest on Friday and several others were wounded.

"The circumstances of their death are still unclear. We understand a man in military fatigues on board (a) motorcycle opened fire on the crowd in Bambeto before fleeing," Camara said, adding that officials were investigating the incident.

The deaths on Friday brought to at least 15 the number of people killed in violent clashes since March in the seaside capital. Over 300 have been wounded, including 30 during the protests on Thursday.

Gangs of youths burnt tires, barricaded streets and threw rocks at security officials who chased them with tear gas and truncheons through various neighborhoods in the impoverished capital on Friday.

The failure by Guinea's politicians to reach agreement on the organization of the long-delayed legislative poll has stirred up ethnic violence, jeopardized economic gains the country has made since Conde came to power and raised fears the military could once again step in.

The election, first scheduled for 2011, is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule after a military coup in 2008, but it has been postponed several times as government and opposition parties remain at loggerheads.

Despite vast deposits of gold, iron ore and diamonds, global miners Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale have cited the political uncertainty as one of the reasons for slowing billions of dollars of investments in the west African nation.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Sandra Maler)