More Guinea protests after demos injure 17 police

The previous clashes broke out in the suburbs of the capital during the protest against the arrest of members of the National Front for the Defense of the...

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The protests follow the arrest of three leaders of an influential political and civil society coalition

Demonstrations resumed in Conakry in protest at the arrest of three leaders of an influential political and civil society coalition who have now been charged after previous clashes that injured 17 police.

The police officers were hurt, one seriously, after violent demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday following the arrests.

The clashes which began on Tuesday evening saw a lull earlier Thursday before demonstrators armed with stones and sticks again clashed with police in several Conakry suburbs, forcing stores to remain shuttered, an AFP journalist witnessed.

The previous clashes broke out in the suburbs of the capital during the protest against the arrest of members of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC).

The FNDC coalition had been vocal against former president Alpha Conde, overthrown in September last year by a military junta.

This week, the demonstrators burned tyres, set up barricades, knocked over bins and threw projectiles at the police, who tried to disperse them with tear gas. 

The protests were among the first against the administration of military ruler Mamady Doumbouya, who took power after the coup.

The three FNDC leaders were Mamadou Billo Bah, rapper Alpha Midiaou Bah also known as Djanii Alfa, and the coalition’s national coordinator Oumar Sylla.

They were seized during a press conference and

supporters complained that Sylla and Bah were beaten and had their clothes torn by police officers.

‘Insulting remarks’

The three men arrived at a court Thursday for an appearance before a judge.

One of their lawyers said they would appear for trial Friday.

There has been widespread political condemnation of the arrests, and the methods used.

According to prosecutors, Sylla and Bah face charges of having “produced and disseminated… insulting remarks” online against the National Transitional Council (CNT), a legislature appointed by the junta to pass laws pending a return to civilian rule, officially due in three years. 

The rapper, Alfa, had recently criticised comments made by the president of the CNT, before being threatened with arrest by the prosecutor, according to his lawyer.

The ruling junta had in May banned any public demonstrations prior to the next electoral campaign which could be construed, in their view, as threatening public order.

The FNDC had initially called protests for June 23 but indicated they were prepared to give the transitional government a “chance” to set a proposed dialogue in motion.

However, their patience snapped after a meeting with the authorities which the FNDC slammed as a “parody.”

Last week the Heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Ghana’s capital Accra to assess efforts to secure guarantees for restoring civilian rule in Guinea as well as Burkina Faso and Mali.

But the junta has refused to accept an ECOWAS mediator while African Union chairman and Senegalese President Macky Sall has described the 36-month transitional period to restore democracy as “unthinkable”.

Guinea is currently suspended from the bodies of the 15-nation bloc. 

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