Fresh clashes erupt in Guinea despite ban on protests

Fresh clashes between protesters and security forces have erupted in Conakry despite a ban by the junta on demonstrations amid discontent with the regime's planning to transition back to democracy.

The latest clashes came after protests against Guinea's junta and its handling of plans to return to democracy brought the capital to a standstill on Thursday, with organisers claiming that one person was killed.

Protesters in the Conakry suburbs on Friday burned tyres, overturned rubbish bins and threw stones at police vehicles with officers responding with teargas, according to an AFP news agency journalist.

Thursday's protest took place ahead of comments by the chair of a regional bloc who claimed to have persuaded the junta to shorten its timeline for a return to democracy. The junta has not confirmed his comments.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an influential political coalition, called for the demonstrations to denounce the junta's "unilateral management" of the return to civilian rule after it seized power in 2021.

Rough return to democracy

A junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, which overthrew president Alpha Conde in September last year, has pledged to hand over power to elected civilians within three years. 

But regional powers have rejected this timeline, with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspending Guinea after the coup.

Speaking alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at a briefing in Bissau on Thursday, the ECOWAS regional bloc chair Umaro Sissoco Embalo said he had recently convinced Guinea's junta to hasten the return to democracy.

"I was in Conakry with the president of the commission (of ECOWAS) to make the military junta understand the decision of the summit of heads of state that the transition cannot exceed 24 months", Embalo said.

"They had proposed 36 months, but we succeeded in convincing them," he added.

But Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, a Guinean minister and spokesperson for the transitional government, told AFP that "neither the government nor the presidency confirms this information about the duration of the transition in Guinea".

Source: AFP