Opposition, Government Supporters Clash ahead of Guinea Vote


Pro-government and opposition supporters clashed on the streets of Guinea's capital on Monday, medical and police sources said, sparking fears over unrest in the west African nation a week ahead of nationwide elections.

Guinea's largest market was forced to close and traders fled to safety as rioters pelted cars with stones and looted stores in Conakry's busy Madina district, an Agence France Presse reporter on the scene witnessed.

"It all kicked off with the posting of election campaign banners by the activists of a political party which their opponents tore up and even tore down the hoardings," a senior police officer told AFP.

"They were attacked with sticks and then stones that wounded many on both sides."

The bloodshed spread to other parts of Conakry where youths overturned bins and put up barricades, blocking traffic on the main route between central Guinea and the airport.

"Some of the injured had open wounds on their foreheads caused by sharp objects or stones," said Karamoko Yaya Barry, a doctor who said 11 of the wounded were being treated in two clinics.

Legislative polls were initially due to have been held within six months of the swearing-in of President Alpha Conde in December 2010 but have been repeatedly delayed.

The west African nation's main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, has accused the president's camp and the electoral commission of conniving to rig the September 24 vote.

Guinea's opposition warned on Sunday of nationwide protests if the electoral commission failed to meet its demands meant to ensure that the polls are free and fair.

Diallo's party wants electoral lists to be published and the constituency map to be revamped, and has given the vote panel until Wednesday to meet its demands.

Conde was the country's first democratically elected president but opposing factions have failed to agree on how the polls should be organised.

Demonstrations on the issue have led to deadly violence, with more than 50 people killed since 2011.

The last parliamentary elections in Guinea took place in June 2002 during the dictatorship of General Lansana Conte, who died in December 2008 after 24 years in power.

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