Guinea police fire tear gas to disperse protesters

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Security forces in Guinea clashed with opposition protesters on Thursday who are opposed to the June date set for legislative elections, leaving at least 15 people wounded, the government said.

Police also arrested the opposition’s spokesman and another leader after the demonstration went ahead despite the government’s calls for protesters to take another route.

“The government is deeply concerned about the lack of respect for the security instructions and the call to violence,” government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said. “It also strongly condemns the acts of violence that left people wounded and the stone-throwing attacks against security forces who had been deployed to ensure the civilian population’s protection.”

The government said four people were wounded by bullets “of an unknown origin,” while others were hurt when protesters hurled stones.

At least one man was critically wounded, according to Mamadou Sire Tounkara at the emergency room at Donka hospital.

“He was shot in the stomach. He is bleeding but we don’t have the means to treat him,” Sire Tounkara said.

The long-awaited legislative vote has been a flashpoint for violent demonstrations over the last several months in this West African nation that long suffered under strongman rule.

The opposition is upset about the preparations being made for the June 30 date, saying the decision was made unilaterally by those in power. The arrests are sure to further heighten tensions surrounding the vote.

Guinean authorities deployed about 4,000 security forces before Thursday’s rally.

Opposition supporters said police detained their spokesman, Aboubacar Sylla, along with leader Charles Pascal Tolno from the Guinea People’s Party (PPG). The two men were released hours later.

Guinea held its first democratic president election in 2010, though the country has failed to organize legislative polls and has no sitting legislature.

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