Guinea's Conde appeals for calm after 11 killed in ethnic clashes

CONAKRY Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:08pm EDT

Guinea's President Alpha Conde arrives for a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh May 25, 2012. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Guinea's President Alpha Conde arrives for a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh May 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Samrang Pring

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CONAKRY (Reuters) - President Alpha Conde appealed for calm on Tuesday after at least 11 people were killed in two days of ethnic violence in the southeastern Guinea, underscoring tensions ahead of parliamentary elections.

In Guinea's second largest city of Nzerekore, which lies some 980 km (612 miles) from the coastal capital Conakry, ethnic gangs prowled the streets for a second day on Tuesday and witnesses reported shooting.

A local police source, who asked not to be identified, said at least 11 people were killed in the violence. A witness at the hospital said many of the dead were killed with machetes and one appeared to have been burned alive.

"The town of Nzerekore has witnessed events resulting in a loss of human life, several wounded and important damage to property. Faced with this situation, I call on the population for calm," Conde said in an address on national television.

The president, elected in 2010 in Guinea's first democratic transition of power, appealed for national unity in the run-up to long-delayed legislative elections.

After months of deadlock and deadly clashes, often ethnically driven, Conde and the opposition agreed this month to hold the vote on September 24.

The latest violence erupted on Monday after a man accused of being a thief was killed in the town of Koule, some 30 km (19 miles) from Nzerekore, residents said.

"Everything is closed: the market, banks, shops. People have stayed at home," said resident Ousmane Balde.

The poll is meant to be the final step in the return to civilian rule in the mineral-rich nation after a 2008 coup. Conde rivals, however, accuse him of trying to rig the planned legislative vote.

Conde draws support from Guinea's second-largest ethnic group, the Malinke, while the opposition is backed by the Peul, who account for around 40 percent of the population.

Mining firms have signed multi-billion dollar deals in a bid to secure untapped mineral riches, especially iron ore, but political instability has led to some investments being frozen.

The region hit by the clashes is near Guinea's porous border with Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, all nations that are in the process of recovering from conflicts of their own.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Daniel Flynn, Editing by Gareth Jones and Sandra Maler)

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Comments (2)
Asaki wrote:
It is too late for president conde to call for a calm after the violence in that part of Guinea.He does not really know how to govern a very complex and even delcate country which is based on ethnic division in which he too came in and widen the gap.There have been in the past so many bloodshed which has claim many lives in the past and the president is sitting there without doing anything.As so called professor of law mr conde has forgotten he has to fulfill his obligations inorder to rebuild the country.But,Sadly though,he is the one that is behind all these ethnic division taking place today.Until guineans put aside this ethnic strategy the country which is rich in miniral resources poverty will always remain.What a pity!!!

Jul 17, 2013 10:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Asaki wrote:
Mr conde is a very stoborn person he doesnot listen to the opposition.The date that was set was not entirely agreed with opposition party.The CNI issued on th 29 of september while the president made a decree for the elections to happen on 24 of september.

Jul 17, 2013 10:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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