Clashes in Conakry
Anti-government protests in Guinea turned violent last week, report BMS workers in the country
BMS workers in Guinea say there are fears of an escalation of trouble in the run-up to December’s parliamentary elections, following violent clashes between anti-government protestors and police in the capital, Conakry, last week.
At least three people were killed, several dozen injured and more than 300 arrested after the incidents last Tuesday. Demonstrators threw rocks, burned tyres, and barricaded roads; the security forces responded by wielding truncheons and firing tear gas grenades. (Library photo of demonstrations in Guinea in 2010. Credit: IRIN)
The violence came after a march by supporters of the opposition Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) party held at a football stadium in the city.
It was the largest demonstration since last November's historic election, which saw the military hand power to civilians for the first time in over 25 years.
Simon needed to collect some colleagues from the airport last Tuesday and describes his journey: “As I set out, I quickly noticed that all the roads were deserted of vehicles and all the shops were shut.
“I drove the three kilometres or so to the roundabout which crossed the main Route Prince into town, which is where the protesters were marching. It was absolutely deserted, and littered with bricks, sticks and lumps of concrete.
“The roundabout was heavily populated by police in blue uniforms and white helmets, long batons and transparent riot shields, many sitting on benches in their blue, pick-up style Land Cruisers.
“The contrast between this and the usual image of the two-lane highway, – packed with cars bumper-to-bumper, stalls crammed together lining the road, and pedestrians and animals dodging their way through it all – was incredible! (Photo credit: Jeff Attaway)
“I made it to the airport and parked next to a car with the radio on full volume. The local station announced that just 20 minutes before two people had been killed and many injured by the police, right at the roundabout that I had passed.”
Jutta (pictured right with husband Andy) adds, “The city is calm now, although there is more of a military presence as we drive around the city. We felt safe in our compound on Tuesday but feared for the people demonstrating.
“It’s difficult to understand what goes on as we heard stories of opposition leaders paying youths to go out and demonstrate to destabilise the country.”
“There will be government elections at the end of November/early December, and there is a fear these will also become a time of conflict.”
There is a strong ethnic side to the tensions, with the majority Peuhl/Fular being behind their Pular opposition leader, whilst the current president is Malinké – the second largest ethnic group in Guinea.
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has said – not for the first time – that he is willing to open talks with opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo (left).
Diallo and his UFDG supporters accuse Conde's government of ignoring its concerns and ruling unilaterally since taking power after the narrow election almost a year ago, and that the forthcoming legislative polls will “be a sham”. (BBC News)
Our workers in Guinea ask BMS supporters to pray for:
- The President Alpha Conde (pictured) to be allowed to work towards reconciliation for past wrongs (something he wants to do).
- Healing, as families have lost loved ones and for the many who were injured.
- The upcoming elections to be peaceful.
- The churches to be used in a positive way during this time of hatred and violence.
- BMS mission workers in the country to remain safe and show love and compassion to those around us.