Amid Violence, Guinea Holds “Day of National Reconciliation”

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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The United States is calling for peace and calm in Guinea, where witnesses report a second day of street violence on what is supposed to be a “day of national reconciliation.”

In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. State Department encouraged Guineans to settle their differences responsibly and urged Guinean security forces not to use excessive force against demonstrators.

President Alpha Conde declared the day to be one of remembrance to mark the two-year anniversary of a massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators, who were protesting against Guinea's former military government.

But on Tuesday, at least three people died and at least 36 others were injured during clashes between security forces and protesters in the capital, Conakry. Witnesses reported more clashes in multiple neighborhoods Wednesday.

The protests began when security forces prevented demonstrators from gathering to protest what they say are President Conde's attempts to rig upcoming parliamentary elections.

President Conde called for the day of remembrance to commemorate the more than 150 people killed in 2009 when government forces opened fire on protesters in a packed stadium during a demonstration against the country's former military rulers. More than 100 women at the rally reportedly were raped during the incident.

On Tuesday, the rights group Human Rights Watch said that Guinea's current government has failed to bring justice to the victims of the massacre. The group said that “declaring September 28 a day of reconciliation does not free Guinean authorities from their responsibility to prosecute those responsible.”

Mr. Conde took office in December, winning Guinea's first democratic election since the country won independence in 1958. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place by the end of the year.