Guinea opposition calls for 'anyone but Conde'

Thousands of opposition activists rallied in the Guinean capital on Thursday demanding "anyone but Alpha" Conde be returned in presidential polls expected before the end of the year.

Protesters at a stadium in Conakry chanted "Alpha zero, Alpha Ebola", waving banners that read "Alpha = injustice" and "Anyone but Alpha in 2015".

Opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla, president of the Union of Forces for Change party, urged the demonstrators to campaign for electoral reform and for local polls to be held before the presidential vote "theoretically expected in October".

"This regime that everyone in Guinea rejects, wants to succeed itself? Is that possible?" he asked, prompting cries of "no, no" from the crowd.

Conde defeated opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo to take the presidency in the country's first-ever democratic poll in 2010, stoking deadly ethnic tensions that have dogged Guinean politics since independence.

Diallo, a former prime minister, addressed the rally to call on Conde "to leave in 2015 and, for peace in this country, we suggest he organise free and fair elections".

"Here, there are two viruses that plague Guinea, Ebola haemorrhagic fever and President Alpha Conde," added Alpha Ibrahima Sila Bah, leader of the Guinean Party for Rebirth and Progress.

The crowd broke up peacefully, in contrast with the previous rally on January 7, which escalated into a riot in which several police officers and civilians were injured.

One of the poorest countries in the region despite vast potential for mineral exploitation, Guinea was run by a succession of autocratic rulers after gaining independence from France in 1958.

A military junta took control in December 2008 after the death of president Lansana Conte, who had seized power in a coup 24 years earlier.

In 2010, civilian rule was ushered in after a transition period and an election marred by delays and ethnic clashes.

Agence France-Presse

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