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Guinea post-election violence turns deadly as police clash with opposition supporters

A police officer throws a stone at protesters, during a mass protest the morning after preliminary results were released for five communes in Conakry, Guinea on October 21, 2020.
A police officer throws a stone at protesters, during a mass protest the morning after preliminary results were released for five communes in Conakry, Guinea on October 21, 2020. © John Wessels, AFP
4 min

At least eight civilians and one police officer have died in violence following the weekend's tense presidential election, in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters, Guinea's security ministry said on Wednesday. President Alpha Condé called for calm, as partial results showed him holding his election lead.

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In a statement, the security ministry pointed to shootings and stabbings in Guinea’s capital Conakry and elsewhere in the country since Sunday's presidential vote.

The ministry said in a statement that "this strategy of chaos [was] orchestrated to jeopardise the elections of October 18", and also pointed to numerous people who were wounded in the unrest.

"I reiterate my appeal to all to calm and serenity, pending the outcome of the electoral process under way in our country," President Condé said in a statement. "If victory is mine, I remain open to dialogue and available to work with all Guineans."

Partial vote tally

Guinea’s electoral body announced a provisional vote tally for parts of the country Wednesday night, suggesting encouraging results for Condé.

In a broadcast statement, the president of the electoral authority Kabinet Cissé read out results from 16 constituencies, out of 38, in the West African nation. Condé won a majority of votes in over half of those constituencies, the authority said.

The announcement followed a similar one the previous day in which the authority gave him a majority in four constituencies in the capital Conakry.

But the latest update came during days of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces following Sunday’s tense presidential race in the poor nation, which has been beset by months of unrest.

Ongoing clashes

Even as clashes continued in Conakry on Wednesday, a security officer, Mamadou Keganan Doumbouya, told AFP that at least three people had died.

Many other were injured when supporters of Condé's main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo set alight piles of old furniture and burned tyres in some opposition neighbourhoods of Conakry, Security Minister Damantang Albert Camara said.

Youths in alleyways also hurled stones at police officers stationed along a main artery who fired back tear gas cannisters.

Hadjiratou Barry, a resident of a Conakary district where clashes were taking place, also told AFP – through tears – that her brother had been shot dead.

And a local doctor, who declined to be named, said he had received two dead bodies, and nine injured people, at his clinic.

Main opposition Diallo claims victory before official results

The unrest follows a high-stakes presidential election on Sunday, in which Condé ran for a third term in a controversial bid that had already sparked mass protests in the West African country.

At least 12 people are reported to have been killed in violence since the election, in which Diallo claimed victory on Monday based on his campaign's tallies. It worsened the already-tense post-electoral ambiance, as the official results have not yet been announced – they are expected this week.

Opposition supporters are deeply suspicious about the fairness of the poll, although the government insists that it was fair.

Much of the tension in Guinea centres on Condé's candidacy, and security forces repressed mass protests against the move from October last year, killing dozens of people.

In March, the 82-year-old president pushed through a new constitution that he argued would modernise the country. It also allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidents, however.

Clashes and barricades after calm polling day

Ten candidates are running for president alongside frontrunners Condé and Diallo, old political rivals who traded barbs in a bitter campaign. 

Despite fears of violence after the pre-vote clashes, polling day was mostly calm.

Then Diallo's self-proclaimed election victory ratcheted up tensions, and celebrations by his supporters descended into violent clashes with security forces on Monday. The opposition politician said that security forces killed three youngsters that night, although AFP was unable to confirm the details.

Security forces also barricaded Diallo inside his house, the politician said on Tuesday.

Monitors from the African Union and the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS both said that Guinea's election was mostly fair, despite insistence from Diallo's camp that it was fraudulent.

Diallo served as Guinea’s prime minister under authoritarian leader Lansana Conté – a fact that Condé underscored repeatedly on the campaign trail.

A former opposition activist himself, Condé became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015. But rights groups accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism, saying he is prone to fits of anger and reluctant to hold his security forces to account.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP & REUTERS)

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