Guinea PM Invites Opposition to Talks Amid Political Unrest

Posted September 30th, 2011 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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Guinea's government is calling for a meeting with opposition parties on Friday following deadly clashes between security forces and protesters earlier this week.

Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana called for the meeting in order to reach an agreement with the opposition on the disputed date of the upcoming parliamentary election, currently scheduled to take place on December 29.

At least three people died and 36 others were injured Tuesday in the capital, Conakry, after security forces prevented demonstrators from gathering to protest what they say are President Alpha Conde's attempts to rig the elections. Guinean authorities arrested over 300 people following the incident.

Some analysts say it is unlikely that Guinea's opposition parties will attend Friday's talks, saying opposition leaders are expected to demand the release of the arrested protesters before meeting with the government.

Many opposition leaders are also calling for a restructuring of the country's Independent National Election Commission, claiming the commission is not independent enough.

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Guinean authorities to ensure that security forces “avoid an excessive use of force” and allow peaceful protests. He also called on the government and opposition to “engage in dialogue with a view to holding credible, transparent and peaceful legislative elections.”

The U.S. has also called for peace and calm in the country and urged Guineans to settle their differences responsibly.

This week's violence came as Guineans were supposed to be taking part in a “national day of reconciliation.” President Conde declared Wednesday to be a day of remembrance to mark the two-year anniversary of the massacre of more than 150 people killed by security forces during a demonstration against the country's former military rulers.

Mr. Conde took office in December, winning Guinea's first democratic election since the country won independence in 1958.