Pandemonium in Guinea as party supporters engage in fierce fighting ahead of elections

One person has been left dead and at least 50 injured as fighting erupted between opposing political parties in Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Supporters of former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and the opposition leader, Alpha Conde, engaged in fierce confrontation a week before the second round of the presidential election. Apparently after a brief intervention, both sides have agreed to suspend campaign rallies until further notice. Election officials are to decide if the run-off vote can proceed.

In a  statement to reporters, government minister said that the elections would be held as scheduled. Stone-throwing on Saturday and Sunday began after the election rivals both held rallies in the capital. The country’s electoral commission earlier condemned the one-year jail sentence given to its chairman and another senior official after they were found guilty of committing fraud in the election’s first round in June.

The elections in the West African State, had been hailed as the first democratic election in the mineral-rich West African state since independence from France in 1958. But Mr Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UDFG) and Mr Conde’s Rally for the People of Guinea (RPG) have both accused each other of provocation before the two men contest the election run-off in a week. Rival supporters threw stones at each other on Sunday in the suburb of Hamdallaye, where both candidates’ parties have their headquarters, the AFP news agency said. Nearby cars were also reportedly attacked. The clashes on Saturday which left a number of people with serious injuries, happened near Mr Conde’s home in the Mafanco district, as well as in Hamdallaye and in Dixinn, where the electoral officials were tried.

Politicians have called for calm, but tension is growing between ethnic Peul and Malinke – the two largest communities in the country. Cellou Dalein Diallo  who happens to be from the  Peul ethnic group, is seen as the favourite for the presidency after gaining 44% of the first round vote, compared to 18% for Mr Conde, a Malinke. Despite being the largest ethnic group, a Peul has never been president. The Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta. Guinea’s neighbour, Sierra Leone is keen on seeing a peaceful election process in the country. A few weeks ago, Sierra Leone’s president Koroma visited Guinea to urge leaders to ensure a peaceful transition of power and call on all to accept the final outcome of the elections.

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