UN, African nations urge Guinea to end blockade of opposition chief

Conakry (AFP) –


International envoys mediating the crisis following last week's disputed election in Guinea urged the government on Tuesday to lift a blockade of the home of opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS said in a statement that "Guinean authorities (must) lift the barricade in the spirit of inclusive dialogue".

Police have barricaded Diallo inside his house for days, as post-election clashes between his supporters security forces raged last week, killing 21 people.

President Alpha Conde, 82, won a hotly-contested October 18 election according to official results announced Saturday, setting the stage for a controversial third term.

But his main opponent Diallo, 68, disputes the results. He claimed victory last week, citing data his activists gathered at individual polling stations.

His self-proclaimed victory led to unrest across the nation of some 13 million people.

The government put the number of dead at 21, but the political opposition says 27 people died. AFP was unable to independently confirm the number of deaths.

The international envoys -- who include ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the UN special representative to West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas -- landed in Guinea on Sunday to mediate.

In a statement on Tuesday, the representatives said they had come to "lower sociopolitical tensions" after the election.

They added that they "regretted the loss of human life" and urged Guinea to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Among other things, they urged Guinea to investigate the killings and hold the perpetrators to account, and for all parties to engage in dialogue.

Much of the turbulence centres on a third term for Alpha Conde, whom opponents accuse of drifting into authoritarianism.

He pushed through a new constitution in March which he argued would modernise the country. But it also allowed him to bypass a two-term limit for presidents.