Eight hurt in clashes between Guinea protesters and police
5/10/2012 7:20:02 PM -
CONAKRY (AFP) - At least eight people were injured Thursday in clashes between Guinea police and opposition protesters, who are demanding the organisation of long-delayed legislative elections.
Security forces fired tear gas and beat back youths with their batons, an AFP journalist witnessed, as they tried to prevent the youths heading to a rally from passing in front of the ruling party headquarters in the Hamdallaye suburb.
Earlier in the same suburb police fired tear gas at a group of protesters, who responded by throwing stones.
Thousands gathered for the start of a national protest campaign announced on Monday calling for talks with President Alpha Conde's government on holding elections.
Most shops, schools and petrol stations kept their doors shut Thursday, fearing violence, and security forces maintained a strong presence, especially around the headquarters of the national election commission (CENI).
CENI has been accused by the opposition of being biased towards the ruling party.
The ruling party, Rally for the Guinea People (RPG), urged the opposition to "banish violence", saying it was important to organise the elections peacefully.
The already delayed elections were set for July 8 but in April they were postponed as Conde said there were "technical problems" that had not been resolved.
Legislative elections were to be held under constitutional rules within six months of Conde's inauguration in December 2010. The European Union has warned that without democratic elections, it will not release any aid to the country.
The opposition has, amongst others, demanded an audit of the electoral roll before the polls are held.
The last legislative elections were held in June 2002 during the regime of president Lansana Conte who died in December 2008 after 24 years in power.
A transitional council has served as a parliament since 2010 during the transition from military to civilian rule.