Guinea opposition delays protests

2013-02-13 08:48

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Conakry - Guinean opposition parties have agreed to postpone national protests against what they say are flawed preparations for legislative elections, following the death of the country's army chief and 10 others in a plane crash.

The government declared three days of national mourning after the crash near the Liberian capital Monrovia on Monday which killed General Souleymane Kelefa Diallo, a close ally of President Alpha Conde.

Sidya Toure, an opposition leader, said the protests and a national strike, which were planned for Wednesday, would be delayed until 18 February to respect the mourning period.

It is the second time the protests have been postponed. They were initially scheduled for 7 February, but were banned by authorities because they coincided with a visit by Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer body FIFA.

The long-delayed election is intended to be the last stage in the mineral-rich West African nation's transition to civilian rule after a military coup in 2008.

But opposition parties are seeking to protest about the two firms chosen by the government to update the country's voter roll. They say the firms are skewing the list to favour Conde and want them to be replaced.

Violent political bickering

Conde was elected in 2010 in the first free vote after 50 years of one-man rule. The army had seized power in 2008 after the death of veteran leader Lansana Conte and Guinea endured two years of often violent military rule.

The parliamentary poll was due in 2011 but has already been delayed four times by sometimes violent political bickering.

Opposition parties have rejected a proposed May 12 date for the election.

The European Union, one of Guinea's major donors, warned in November that it needed a credible and detailed timeline for the election to unblock about €174m.

The political deadlock and violence has also contributed to doubts among investors, who are keen to tap into the country's vast iron ore, bauxite and gold reserves.

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