Guinea’s government, opposition in all-out war

Guinea’s government, opposition in all-out war
Anti-government protesters split after police threw tear gas grenades during clashes in Conakry on May 4, 2015.

CONAKRY, Guinea - With the Guinean government accused of electoral dark arts and the opposition of spoiling for a coup, the west African country's political factions are embroiled in a standoff that may require international arbitration.

Across the capital Conakry, supporters boast of victory for the nation's incumbent leader months before the presidential campaign has even begun, waving banners saying "Re-election of Alpha Conde in the First Round".

The opposition, convinced of having been robbed in previous polls and provoked by this triumphalism, angrily points out that no regional elections have been held in 10 years and accuses Conde of filling local administrations with unelected cronies who will help him rig October's presidential polls.

"For the moment we are in the street, we are getting our activists out into the street and we will keep doing so as many times as is necessary," says former prime minister Sidya Toure.

Guinea's opposition is campaigning for a revision of an election timetable that they say stacks the odds in the regime's favour by delaying regional elections until after the presidential vote.

After protests in Conakry marked by deadly clashes between activists and security forces, the opposition's strategy is to get its supporters onto the streets throughout the country.

This would not have been possible a few months ago with Ebola ravaging the country, but recent months have seen a sharp decline in transmission and activists have been out in force in the provinces.

In a recent interview with the newspaper Le Monde in Paris, Conde accused his opponents of attempting to "create chaos, to have lots of deaths, to reach a serious crisis, and ultimately a military coup".

The head of state, elected in 2010, has vowed that local council officials - whether his people or not - will play "no role in the elections" in October.

Opposition leaders made a joint declaration on March 24 that Conde had lost "all legitimacy", prompting Foreign Minister Francois Lounceny Fall to denounce their alleged desire to "make the country ungovernable, and maybe push the army to intervene".

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