Guinea's President Opens Talks with Opposition


Guinea's President Alpha Conde asked his government on Monday to open talks with opposition leaders "without delay" aimed at ending a political deadlock which has led to violent street protests.

The announcement follows weeks of clashes between anti-government activists and security forces in the west African nation's capital Conakry and several provincial towns that have left several people dead and dozens wounded.

Conde instructed Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana in a letter circulated to the media to find "acceptable and lawful" solutions to the crisis that would lead to "the organization of transparent and fair presidential and local elections".

Guinea's opposition is demanding local elections ahead of a presidential vote due in October, but has accused Conde of refusing the request because he wants to keep his cronies in local administrations, to help him rig the October vote.

The president denies the claims, arguing that local officials will not be involved in the presidential polls.

He said however that the agenda for dialogue should prioritize "the concern that non-elected bodies of local authorities shall not constitute an obstacle to transparency or disable the fairness of the electoral process".

He didn't set out a timetable for the talks but said he hoped "that a dialogue can be organized without delay".

The announcement comes after Conde met opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo at the presidential palace in Conakry last week.

Diallo told AFP after a meeting he described as "disappointing" that said he had been asked about the grievances of the opposition and responded by complaining about unelected officials installed by the government running local authorities across the country.

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