Guinea opposition mulls new protests

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s opposition said they were considering new street protests following the expiry on Thursday of the 72-hour ultimatum they gave the government to fix the flaws they had identified in the roll of registered voters.

Opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla said the country’s election commission had given them the electoral list on a thumb drive — but that is not what they sought. He said his coalition had demanded that the body publish the electoral list nationwide, so that voters could check if their names appear in their respective polling stations ahead of the Sept. 24 legislative election.

Sylla said the electronic list they were given bears more than 5 million names, making it virtually impossible for them to check its veracity.

“It’s over 250,000 pages,” he said of the electronic list. “How are we supposed to check this? It’s not in Conakry at our headquarters that we can check if the names are right. It needs to be published in each locality so that people can go and see if their photo matches their name.”

Moustapha Naite, campaign spokesman for the ruling party, said the opposition’s claims were unfounded and amounted to a delay tactic.

“Today at 10 or 12 days before the legislative election, I find it very curious that they have found another pretext for delaying it,” said Naite. “They have realized that the ruling party is making gains in the field. We are winning everywhere, including in their stronghold, and that is what has caused this panic (on their end).”

Guinea held its first democratic election in its 55-year history in 2010. Although the vote was deemed mostly transparent by international observers, the campaign that preceded it and the post-electoral violence that followed it, divided the country along ethnic lines, pitting the nation’s two largest ethnic groups against each other. The legislative election, which was supposed to complete the West African nation’s transition to constitutional rule, was due to take place a few months after the 2010 ballot but has been repeatedly pushed back.

The opposition — who are predominantly from the Peul ethnic group —have repeatedly taken to the streets. It’s led to violent clashes with the mostly-Malinke security force, which supports the president, an ethnic Malinke who is accused of stacking the government with members of his ethnic group.

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Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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Rukmini Callimachi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/rcallimachi

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