Guinea: Security boosted under state of emergency in Guinea
Security boosted under state of emergency in Guinea
Scores of soldiers and police patrolled hotspot areas of Conakry on Thursday after Guinea was placed under a state of emergency following deadly clashes over disputed election results.
Interim president General Sekouba Konate decreed a state of emergency Wednesday after three days of sporadic violence in strongholds of the losing presidential candidate who claims he is the rightful winner, citing voter fraud.
The state of emergency announcement came as the unofficial death toll since Monday rose to seven on Wednesday in the clashes after opposition leader Alpha Conde was announced the winner of the election with 52.5 percent of votes.
However on Thursday calm had returned to Ratoma, a suburb of Conakry, and the towns of Pita, Dalaba and Labe in Middle Guinea where the clashes took place.
In parts of Ratoma, a suburb home to one-fifth of the population of Conakry, pick-up trucks loaded with helmeted and armed police roamed the streets while paratroopers were positioned at intersections, automatic rifles in hand.
Ratoma is the only suburb in Conakry which Diallo won in the vote and is home to members of his Fulani ethnic group. His rival Conde is a Malinke and the election campaign was marred by clashes between the two ethnic majorities.
Most small shops in the suburb remained closed, but markets were active, while traffic, almost non-existent since Monday, slowly resumed.
Ratoma's main road Prince Avenue was still littered with debris from barricades erected by young supporters of losing candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, during violent clashes with police.
"Yesterday police were beating people, insulting Diallo and the Fulani but since they decreed a state of emergency people have stayed at home and this morning there was no more chaos," said 22-year old Ratoma inhabitant Ousmane Barry.
However most residents of the suburb say they have been unable to sleep as security forces fire their guns all through the night.
"It's a precarious calm because people are hiding in their homes but remain frustrated because they stole Diallo's victory," said Ibrahima Dubreka Diallo, 58, a businessman.
Konate said emergency rule would remain in place until the results of the presidential run-off had been confirmed by the court.
Major Mohamed Kasse, who read the decree on national television, later told AFP it meant "any protest, any gathering" was forbidden.
While various sources have reported at least seven deaths in violent clashes following the announcement of election results, the government up until now has not announced any fatalities.
International concern has risen in the tense run-up to the Supreme Court ruling as Diallo challenges the November 7 poll results, citing massive voter fraud.
The United States condemned the violence Wednesday.
"Such incidents have no place in the democratic society that Guinea aspires to become," said US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.
The US called on the country's political leaders to restrain their supporters and make any challenge to the result via the "established constitutional procedures", he added.
Rights groups, journalists and eye-witnesses observers have raised concerns of excessive force by Guinean security forces who Diallo accuses of "savage brutality" against his supporters and members of his Fulani ethnic group.
According to certain journalists the violence was however less brutal than that seen in recent years. In September 2009 the capital was traumatised by the massacre of some 150 opponents to a military junta by security forces.
If the Supreme Court confirms the election results, Conde will become the fifth leader of Guinea, ruling a country which is desperately poor, despite massive stores of bauxite and iron ore.
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