State of emergency declared in Guinea

Confusion in Guinea

The military junta in Guinea declared a state of emergency in the country on Wednesday which will result in further restricting civilian movement and giving the army permission to deploy in civilian areas as security forces continued to target members of the Peul ethnic group following a tense presidential election. The decree  which was read on television by the head of the country’s army in which he said the law would be in effect until the country’s Supreme Court rules on whether to validate the provisional results from the election. Cellou Dalein Diallo, the presidential candidate who is contesting the results, lost to a candidate from the Malinke ethnic group. Diallo who is a Peul by ethnicity, is overwhelmingly backed by members of his own ethnicity, just as his opponent was backed by his. Since the announcement of the results, angry Peul youths have burned tires, barricaded roads and pillaged the homes of Malinke neighbours. The mostly Malinke police in Guinea reacted with force taking over troubled neighbourhoods that now look like ghost towns. Bullet casings and smouldering tires litter roads. Few residents venture outside. Reports of police brutality by a specially created election security force known as the Fossepel against Peul citizens are multiplying. At least six people have been killed and 62 injured since results were announced Monday night.

According to hospital sources,  majority of those taken to the main municipal hospital in Conakry came in with bullet wounds, even though the Fossepel is not supposed to be armed. The government decree now explicitly gives the army, who carry automatic weapons, the right to enter civilian areas to ensure that the state of emergency is respected, said Mohamed Kasse, a government spokesman. He said a state of emergency means there can be no gatherings of people, or rallies. He said Guineans are allowed to go to work, but can only go one at a time. “It’s to secure the population,” he said. Soldiers wearing red berets are deeply feared in Guinea after an army-led massacre of civilians last year. The slaughter, which occurred when the military sealed the doors of the national soccer stadium and then opened fire on protesters gathered to demand an end to army rule, was so horrific it is now the subject of an examination by the International Criminal Court. The head of the military regime was forced into exile, and his second-in-command agreed to hand over power to civilians in the recent election.

The was no report of violence in the Peul dominated parts of the capital , a sharp contrast with the rest of the city. In Malinke strongholds, supporters of Malinke candidate Alpha Conde, who won with 52.5 percent of the vote, danced in front of speakers blasting campaign songs. There were no restrictions on their movements. According to Assistant Inspector General of Police Sorie Kargbo, the violence in Guinea has already sparked clashes in neighbouring Sierra Leone where the country’s police force are reported to have arrested 20 people for rioting following clashes between Peul and Malinke.  Guinea borders Sierra Leone and Liberia, two countries recovering from brutal civil conflicts as a result of ethnic rivalry. Sierra Leone’s president Koroma has been at the forefront in ensuring that democracy prevails in Guinea as the country moves from decades of dictatorship to full democratic governance.

© 2010, Clarence Roy-Macauley. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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