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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Clashes erupt during Guinea independence celebrations

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Celebrations Sunday to celebrate the 64th anniversary of Guinea’s independence descended into clashes between protesters and police in parts of the capital Conakry, witnesses told AFP.

Hundreds of young people took to the Route Le Prince road, which connects the capital to its northern suburbs, known for violent clashes with police.

The crowd had gathered to celebrate the country’s independence, said one of the event’s organisers, who asked not to be named.

But they also wanted to pay tribute to the “victims of repression” in those neighbourhoods, he added. Clashes there have often resulted in deaths.

“Everything was going well at (one end of the road) — it was at the (other end) where some young people wanted to barricade the Le Prince road by burning tyres”, he said.

“The festival organisers tried in vain to dissuade them. The police then intervened and the situation degenerated.”

Demonstrators set alight a double-decker bus, local media reported, while unverified photos shared on social media showed a burned-out gendarmerie vehicle.

Residents in the Bambeto area reported hearing gunfire around 7:00 pm (1900 GMT). By 7:30 pm, the sound of shots firing had stopped, they said.

The official celebrations, meanwhile, were held at the parliament building, where turnout was low, according to witnesses.

Poor but mineral-rich Guinea has been under military government since a September 2021 coup that ousted president Alpha Conde after more than 10 years in power.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in September applied an assets freeze and travel ban on Guinea’s junta.

The bloc gave the junta a month from September 22 to agree to a “reasonable and acceptable” timeframe for a return to civilian rule, or risk “more severe sanctions”.

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