Guinea government, opposition hold talks ahead of fresh protests

A Guinean government delegation has met opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo at his home for talks, ahead of fresh protests due Monday calling for a disputed electoral timetable to be scrapped.

A statement released Sunday by the delegation, headed by justice minister Cheick Sako, said their first meeting in almost 18 months had “relaunched a dialogue” with former prime minister Diallo.

“This step was intended to reiterate to the opposition the government’s willingness to revive the dialogue (which is) the only route that ends with a calmer political climate and inclusive elections,” the statement said.

Diallo confirmed he had received the group of senior officials but emphasised that cancelling protests planned for Monday was “out of the question” without the guaranteed implementation of a 2013 agreement stipulating that local elections take place before a presidential contest.

The protesters were due to march on the headquarters of Guinea’s national electoral commission on Monday.

Supporters of Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea have rallied in recent days over the electoral timetable, which they claim has been pushed through without consultation and gives the ruling party an unfair aantage.

They are also angry about the fragile security situation in the west African nation, which they blame on President Alpha Conde’s regime.

Hundreds of youths hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas and warning shots in two days of violence on April 13 and 14, bringing traffic to a standstill on a main highway into central Conakry, Guinea’s capital.

The opposition said three people were killed, including an unidentified young girl, and 50 wounded — at least 12 by gunfire — during the clashes. The government put the number of dead at two with “dozens” injured.

The meeting between Diallo and the delegation took place just hours after the funeral of one of the opposition protesters killed last week.

The opposition has accused Conde of using the Ebola epidemic as an excuse to postpone voting and has called on supporters to back its demand to bring forward local elections due in March next year.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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