Guinea opposition withdraws from election talks

Guinea opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo
Guinea opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo

CONAKRY, June 21, 2013 (AFP) - Guinea's opposition has withdrawn from talks aimed at paving the way for elections in the restive west African nation after fresh violence which left several anti-government activists wounded.

 

The clashes broke out as police moved Wednesday to disperse supporters of former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, a key opposition leader, with three activists shot and nine others wounded, according to several sources.

Diallo had been in court, where he was facing defamation charges brought against him, and then withdrawn, by an ally of President Alpha Conde.

 

"We have decided... to suspended from today our participation in the ongoing political dialogue," said opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla, at a crisis meeting in the capital Conakry late Thursday.

 

The decision to withdraw from the UN-mediated dialogue, which applies to all opposition parties, was made to "protest against the brutal crackdown by the security forces on opposition activists", Sylla said.

 

The president's announcement in April of parliamentary elections was followed by a series of anti-government demonstrations in which dozens have been killed or wounded in Conakry.

 

The poll, postponed several times in the past two years, has become an explosive issue in Guinea as it tries to move on from decades of dictatorship, coups and political violence. An official from Guinea's election commission said Monday that the election set for June 30 was no longer on the cards following the violence.

 

The opposition has threatened to prevent it taking place unless it is delayed and has demanded that the South African company managing the electoral roll is replaced amid suspicions that it is colluding with the government to fix the result.

 

The last legislative elections were held in 2002 under then president Lansana Conte, who ruled the former French colony for 24 years until his death in December 2008, which prompted a disastrous coup marked by extreme police brutality.

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