Police foil Guinea opposition rally, arrest dozens
Police arrive to break up an opposition rally in the Matam district of Conakry. By Cellou Binali (AFP)
CONAKRY (AFP) - Police used tear gas to break up an opposition rally to call for clean elections in Guinea in July, arresting dozens of people in the capital Saturday.
An AFP reporter saw riot police with vehicles barring access to the stadium in the Matam district of Conakry, where the local mayor denied opposition claims that it had notified authorities of the rally as required by law.
Dozens of people, mainly young, were picked up in the area around the stadium.
When opposition leaders including ex-prime ministers Lansana Kouyate and Sidya Toure arrived and began addressing enthusiastic protestors the police moved in with tear gas to disperse them.
"The struggle is only beginning, dictatorship will not succeed, long live free and democratic Guinea, we will win," said Kouyate of the Party for Hope and National Development
Toure, of the Union for the Republic, added: "As long as they try to stop us speaking freely, we will do it as we like, or by force."
Opposition parties had on Thursday announced a series of rallies across the nation from Saturday to force President Alpha Conde to organise credible and transparent legislative polls on July 8.
The communique published in local media was signed by several opposition parties including the Guinean Union of Democratic Forces of Cellou Dalein Diallo, another former prime minister.
The polls, which have been delayed several times, should have been held six months after Conde took office in November 2010 in Guinea's first democratic presidential election.
The opposition has accused the regime of planning to hold sham polls with no safeguards against fraud, and wants the electoral register to be audited before they take place.
The last legislative elections were in June 2002 during the regime of president Lansana Conte, who ruled the west African nation for 24 years until his death in December 2008.
A transitional council has served as a parliament since 2010 during the transition from military to civilian rule.
Guinea's interior minister Alhassane Conde pledged Monday in Paris that the elections would be held in "total transparency."
The European Union recently warned that unless Guinea holds democratic elections it would withhold promised aid for the west African country.