Guinea opposition suspends street protests to allow mediation

2018-05-17 18:20

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Opposition parties in Guinea have suspended street protests against the official outcome of local elections, announcing that the international community has offered to mediate.

After intervention by the ambassadors of the United States, France and the European Union (EU), opposition representatives decided on Wednesday to suspend demonstrations, their chief Cellou Dalein Diallo told AFP.

The opposition will continue to boycott an "inter-Guinean dialogue" proposed by President Alpha Conde's government to settle the differences, Diallo said.

The opposition challenges local election results in which Conde's Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party defeated a coalition led by Diallo's Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) at the polls on February 4.

Opposition supporters protested in February and March.

They then briefly agreed to participate in the proposed talks before withdrawing on April 10 on the grounds that the regime refused to make any genuine effort to resolve the dispute.

On Monday, the opposition led a resumption of strike action by its supporters, bringing trade and traffic to a standstill in parts of the capital Conakry.

The US, French and EU envoys, joined by representatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) met Diallo on Tuesday, he said.

"They asked me to suspend street protests and give them a chance to undertake a few things regarding the opposing camp, and that's what we have done," Diallo added.

"We encouraged them to pursue informal steps to reconcile positions to find a just and fair solution to electoral disputes and to promote the release of the 120 opposition activists arbitarily arrested and unjustly detained since February 4."

The two months of protests in the wake of the elections led to violent incidents in which at least a dozen people were killed.

According to opposition parties and tallies by human rights NGOs, 94 people have been killed, mostly by gunfire, in political protests since April 2011.

The local elections were the first of their kind since a military dictatorship ended a decade ago. They followed eight years of delays blamed on lack of funds, political infighting and the 2013-16 Ebola crisis.

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