Guinea opposition says 120 arrested in protest crackdown

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Police forces are deployed during an opposition protest (AFP/File, Cellou Binani)

CONAKRY — Guinean opposition parties said Saturday that at least 120 protesters had been arrested after police clamped down on a banned protest march which sparked clashes in the capital this week.


"At least 120 members and sympathisers of the opposition were arrested on Monday according to a count we did ourselves after the march," said Aboubacar Sylla, president of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC).


Sylla, also the spokesman for a collective of opposition parties,

told journalists that 87 of those arrested belonged to opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's Union for Democratic Forces in Guinea (UFDG).


"What happened on Monday shows our country is far from being considered a democratic country, respectful of republican values," he said.


Opposition parties had called for a gathering Monday to demand legislative polls which should have been held six months after President Alpha Conde's inauguration in December 2010, but have been repeatedly postponed.


Security forces turned protesters away, sparking clashes with police in several suburbs of the capital, who fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators.


The UN human rights commission expressed its concern for the "excessive use of force against protesters" by Guinean security forces.


"Security forces fired teargas into the house of a party leader. Real bullets were fired and many people arrested, beaten or injured," spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement Friday.


National police, who said the march had been banned, reported that 35 people had been arrested and 20 paramilitary police officers injured by stones thrown by demonstrators.

Sylla said the opposition was determined to continue its fight for "free, fair and transparent legislative elections".


The last legislative elections were held in June 2002 during the regime of president Lansana Conte, who died in December 2008 after 24 years in power.


A military junta took power after his death and a transition government took over in 2010 until the nation's first ever democratic election was held in November. The national transitional council still serves as parliament.



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