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Guinea: new clashes, elections campaigning suspended 0

New clashes broke out on Saturday and Sunday between supporters of Guinea’s two rival presidential candidates.  One person was killed and more than 50 injured. After the violence, the government said election campaigning had been suspended.

Supporters of former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his opponent Alpha Condé clashed in Conakry’s Hamdallaye suburb, where both candidates’ political parties have headquarters. Witnesses said people threw stones and attacked vehicles.

Violence broke out in three separate districts of the city on Saturday between Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UDFG) and Conde’s Rally for the People of Guinea (RPG) party.

The RPG blames Diallo’s party for provoking the clashes, it said Condé’s home was also attacked. “We have recorded at least one person shot dead by our rivals and have many injured. Our office in Hamdallaye (a Conakry neighbourhood) was ransacked,” said Moustaphe Naite, a spokesman for Conde’s RPG party.

Diallo’s party confirmed clashes took place but denied any of its supporters had fired a weapon and said they were attacked by Conde’s followers.

A Reuters reporter saw a pool of blood in the RPG office in Hamdallaye. Witnesses estimated the number of wounded over the weekend at about 50.

The clashes followed a court decision last week to jail two senior officials from the election commission, known as CENI, who were accused of meddling with the results of a first round of voting that took place in June.

Both candidates signed a pact at the beginning of the month committing themselves to peaceful election campaigns.

After the violence, the government said election campaigning had been suspended but there was no immediate threat of a delay to the planned September 19 vote, which is meant to restore civilian rule to the world’s top bauxite exporting nation.

The two candidates plan to hold a meeting to discuss the situation, government spokesman Aboubacar Sylla said late yesterday in remarks broadcast on the state-owned television network.

Guinea is seeking to return to civilian rule after a coup ushered in a military government following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte in December 2008.

Having won 43 percent of the vote in the first round, against Conde’s 18 percent, Diallo will go into the run-off as the favourite.

Cellou Dalein Diallo, 58, was prime minister several times under General Lansana Conté, who ruled for 24 years after coming to power in a military coup in 1984; he is a member of the Fulani ethnic group; his strongholds are middle-Guinea and the capital, Conakry.

Alpha Condé, 73, is a third-time candidate who has opposed all three heads of state since independence, spending two and a half years in jail under Conté and sentenced to death in absentia by first president Ahmed Sekou Touré in 1970; he is a member of the Malinké ethnic group; his stronghold is Upper Guinea.

Source: Reuters Africa, RFI and Bloomberg

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi