Guinea: deadly repression amid fear of power-grab
A new Amnesty International report warns of rising political violence in Guinea amid growing public concern that President Alpha Condé will amend the constitution to run for a third term. Nine protestors were killed last month alone, and scores arrested, including leaders of pro-democracy movements, Amnesty charges in the Nov. 13 report. "This is an affront to human rights and a brutal attempt by the Guinean authorities to silence dissent," said Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty's West and Central Africa director. At least 60 members of the pro-democracy group National Front for the Defense of the Constitution have been arrested since early October, and a court sentenced five of the group's leaders to up to one year in prison for calling the peaceful protest. Dozens of those who participated were also sentenced to a year in prison for attending an "illegal assembly."
At least two people were shot and wounded in the capital Conakry on Nov. 11 during clashes between police and protesters attending the funerals of those slain during demonstrations the previous week. The opposition says 10 were killed in October, while the authorities put the toll at eight, plus a gendarme.
Condé, 81, is due to step down next year when his second and final five-year term expires, but he has refused to rule out running again and asked his government in September to look into drafting a new constitution. The opposition fears a new constitution would be used to allow him to extend his presidency—a tactic used by other West African leaders in recent years. Condé has purged his cabinet in response to the protests, including of the unpopular security minister, but will not disavow running for a third term. Protests have repeatedly shaken both Conakry, and towns in the the bauxite-mining north. (AFP, AFP, AFP, VOA)