Guinea urges calm after anti-government protest turns violent

Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:42am EST
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By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Authorities in Guinea called for calm on Thursday after more than 100 people were injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in the capital Conakry.

The government is preparing for a long-delayed parliamentary election the opposition fears will be rigged.

"We call on the population to remain calm," said government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara. "The street is not the place to resolve political disagreements."

A government official said on state television that 130 people were hurt in Wednesday's riots, including 68 members of the security forces, two of whom were in a critical condition.

Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets to protest against the May election. Clashes broke out between rock-throwing youths and security forces armed with truncheons and teargas grenades.

Police in anti-riot gear were posted in opposition strongholds in the capital on Thursday. Many shops were closed and debris, including burned tires and rocks, littered the streets.

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost narrowly to President Alpha Conde in the 2010 election, accused the security forces of cracking down harshly on demonstrators, adding some were arrested and beaten.

"The president of the republic has a crucial responsibility to create peace. He needs to agree to listen to others, to respect his adversaries," he said.   Continued...

Anti-government demonstrators protest in Conakry February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Saliou Samb