Campaign clashes in Guinea kill 1, injure 50By BOUBACAR DIALLO , Associated Press
Sep. 23, 2013 10:33 AM ET
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Campaign clashes in the West African nation of Guinea have killed one security official and injured 50 people, the government said Monday, fueling concerns of sustained violence in the run-up to legislative elections planned for Saturday.
A police trainee died after being shot while trying to clear barricades erected by demonstrators in Conakry's Cimenterie neighborhood, according to a government statement that said two other officers sustained shooting wounds. A total of 49 other lightly injured people were receiving treatment in medical centers, the statement said.
"The Guinean Government presents its most sincere condolences to the bereaved family and expresses its sympathy and compassion to the wounded and all the other victims not yet identified," the statement said.
The West African nation is gearing up for hotly contested legislative elections scheduled for Saturday.The opposition is insisting that the list of registered voters be revised to accurately reflect the numbers of voters from all areas.
Repeated delays dating back to 2007 have left the country without a functioning legislature and issues surrounding the vote have fueled violent protests.
Over the weekend, a United Nations special envoy announced that the vote, initially planned for Tuesday, would be pushed back four days to address concerns raised by the opposition about voter rolls and other issues. The opposition had been seeking to postpone the vote by a month.
In 2010, Guinea held its first democratic election ever after decades of dictatorship and strongman rule. The vote unleashed tensions between the country's two largest ethnic groups_the Peul, whose candidate lost, and the Malinke, whose candidate, Alpha Conde, is now president.
The latest violence erupted late Sunday after an altercation broke out in Conakry's Bambeto neighborhood between supporters of Conde's ruling party and the opposition. Both sides blamed the other for instigating the clashes.
Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara, speaking on a radio program Monday morning, said security forces were still trying to restore order and blamed the violence on "hooligans." Demonstrators could be seen burning tires through midday on Monday, and the government statement cited multiple cases of assaults and robberies.
"We are burning tires so that no one can pass by here so long as Alpha Conde doesn't push back the election by a month," said Ibrahima Balde, a pro-opposition demonstrator. "A week is not enough to fix the voter list."
Salamata Drame, who lives in Conakry's Enco 5 neighborhood, said residents were trapped inside their homes. "The gendarmes are firing live bullets in the streets," he said.
A medical official at a hospital in the Conakry section of Ratoma, Barry Ibrahima, said he had received one shooting victim Monday morning and was treating six injured people altogether. "It is currently an emergency," he said.
The government statement urged both sides to restrain their supporters.