Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Guinea: 2 killed, 15 wounded in peaceful demonstration


Media Foundation for West Africa

Police officers from the Guinea Police Service continue to violently crackdown on opposition protestors who have been demanding a free and credible legislative election since April, when President Alpha Condé announced that the "much-delayed" elections would be held on 30 June 2013.

The recent attack on protesters occurred on 23 May 2013, when anti-riot police officers fired teargas and live bullets to disperse members of the Republican Opposition Coalition, who were demanding credible elections.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s monitor in Guinea reported that two demonstrators were killed by bullets, while approximately 15 others sustained serious wounds when police fired teargas to mar the peaceful march.

According to MFWA's monitor, Faya Millimono – an opposition leader and chairman of the Liberal Bloc Party – was beaten by police officers. He sustained wounds and was sent to a hospital by Red Cross officers.

Journalists who were also covering the march fell victim to police brutality. One such victim was Alpha Ibrahima Balde, a reporter with a privately-owned radio station, Lynx FM,.

The angry officers seized the reporter, beat him and destroyed his equipment. He was also hit with the butt of a rifle, leaving him unconscious. Balde was later admitted to the emergency ward of a Conakry-based hospital, the Centre Mère et Enfants.

During the past six months, over 15 persons have been killed and hundreds have been wounded in opposition demonstrations against Preside Condé's regime and the organization of the elections.

The opposition is primarily against the government for contracting Waymark, a South Africa-based software company, to audit the voters' register. They believe Waymark is skewing the voters' register in favour of the ruling party, and are demanding that another operator be selected on the basis of international tender.

The MFWA condemns these series of violent attacks, which have led to a number of regrettable deaths and are clear violations of citizens' rights to free speech and assembly.

The MFWA is particularly worried about the continuous silence of the inter-governmental body, ECOWAS, on the developments in Guinea and urges the commission and all actors to safeguard the safety of citizens and the media.