2013 Guinea clashes

There were two waves of violence in Guinea in 2013, first in February and March, then in July. [1] [2] [3]

Nine civilians died in political violence in Guinea in February 2013, after protesters took to the streets to voice their concerns over the transparency of the 2013 election. [1] [2] The demonstrations were fuelled by the opposition coalition’s decision to withdraw from the electoral process in protest at the lack of transparency in the preparations for the election. [4] Nine people were killed during the protests in early 2013, while around 220 were injured, and many of the deaths and injuries were caused by security forces using live fire on protesters. [5] [2]

In July 2013 there was ethno-religious fighting between the Fula (also Kpelles or Guerze) and Malinke (also Konianke) people, the latter forming the base of support for President Alpha Condé, with the former consisting mainly of the opposition. [6] The July violence left 98 dead. [3]

Background

The run up to the September 2013 election was full of controversy, with the process having been delayed four times until 12 May was agreed as the voting date. The parliamentary poll had originally been scheduled for 2011 but was delayed four times until 12 May was agreed. The election set for May 12 is intended to be the last step in the country's transition to civilian rule after two years under a violent army junta following the death of leader Lansana Conte in 2008, however it has now been postponed [4] [7] till September.

In September 2012, there were many complaints over the government’s arbitrary arrest of protesting opposition supporters, 100 of whom were detained that month. This prompted the resignation of two Guinean opposition ministers. The president of Guinea’s national election commission, Louceny Camara, was also forced to step down after numerous demands for his sacking; Camara was seen to be a keen ally of President Condé and was accused of helping to pre-rig the legislative polls in Condé’s favour. Additionally, Guinean opposition parties announced that they would no longer participate in the National Transitional Council, which serves as an interim parliament, and would also boycott the national electoral commission. [8]

The main cause of the political protests was the decision by the Guinean opposition coalition[ which?] to withdraw from the electoral process on 24 February, which was followed by an appeal to citizens to stage nationwide protests. [4] [9] This decision was provoked in part by the National Electoral Commission’s approval of South African software firm Waymark Infotech in compiling a new list of registered voters for the elections. [10] The opposition[ who?] argued that the firm is “open to voting fraud” as it was chosen by the ruling party and has a history of discrepancies in not just Guinea elections, but also other African elections. In September 2012, thousands of Guineans marched in Conakry in protest of Waymark only to be dispersed by police with tear gas. [10]

The indigenous Guerze are mostly Christian or animist, while the Konianke are newer immigrants to the region who are Muslims and considered to be close to Liberia's Mandingo ethnic community. The former are considered to supportive of Liberian President Charles Taylor, while the former fought with rebels against the government in the Liberian civil war. [11]

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