Around 10 injured in Guinea opposition protest - hospital source

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Opposition Protest - Guinea

CONAKRY | Thu May 23, 2013 1:01pm EDT


May 23 (Reuters) - Ten people were injured when security forces and supporters of Guinea President Alpha Conde clashed with protesters marching in the capital against planned legislative elections on Thursday, a hospital source said.


The opposition accuses Conde of attempting to rig the long-delayed polls due to take place on June 30. Conde took office in 2010 following the first democratic transfer of power in the

mineral-rich nation since independence in 1958.


Police fired tear gas and water cannon at the demonstrators, who deviated from a route approved by the authorities and marched on one of Conakry's principal thoroughfares, a Reuters witness said.


The marchers burned tyres in the streets and clashed with Conde supporters. Later, witnesses heard gunshots in Conakry's Bambeto neighbourhood, a traditional opposition stronghold.


"We've admitted around ten wounded, including opposition leaders ... The situation for some of the injured is fairly serious," a doctor at a private clinic told Reuters. Witnesses saw numerous injured protesters carried away from the demonstration.


The government said in a statement that some of the marchers had been armed with knives and clubs and blamed the injuries on the demonstrators themselves.


"These over-excited demonstrators, desiring to reach at all costs the motorway in violation of the approved itinerary ... attacked their own political leaders," said government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara.


At least 18 people have been killed in violent clashes since March in Conakry and over 300 others have been wounded.


Opposition leaders temporarily suspended demonstrations earlier this month to allow U.N.-brokered talks with the government to take place but later called for renewed protests, accusing Conde of sabotaging the negotiations.


The opposition says Conde did not consult them before announcing the June poll date and accuse South African firm Waymark, which has a contract to revise the voter list, of making changes in favour of Conde's political allies.


They are also demanding that Guineans living abroad be allowed to vote in the polls.

The election, first scheduled for 2011, is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule after a military coup in 2008 but 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 slowed billions of dollars of investments in the west African nation, citing political uncertainty as one of the reasons.


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