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Police out in force in Guinea as fresh protests begin


guinea mapGuinea deployed security forces nationwide on Monday to police fresh anti-government protests, witnesses said, as clashes broke out in the capital but the provinces remained largely calm.

The streets emptied in pro-opposition strongholds including Labe in the north and the central towns of Mamou, Dalaba and Pita, residents said, although activists staged a rally at their headquarters in the southeastern city of N’Zerekore.

The Madina market, economic heart of the capital Conakry, was closed along with most businesses in the neighbourhoods close to the airport, according to an AFP reporter on the streets.

Clashes broke out between youths and police in the suburb of Wanidara, according to residents, while demonstrators burned tyres in the Koloma district and threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas.

Witnesses said several hundred women began a march in the central business district, shouting slogans against President Alpha Conde, but were dispersed by security forces.

Around a dozen were arrested, according to witnesses and a policeman who said they were flouting a ban on demonstrations.

Police gathered in large numbers on Conakry’s main roads, including the Prince highway leading from the suburbs through pro-opposition neighbourhoods to the city centre.

Armoured trucks and pick-ups manned by officers in riot gear with tear gas grenade launchers were stationed across the city.

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo’s residence was surrounded by a cordon of police from the early hours of the morning, the politician told reporters.

There were similar ring fences around the homes of senior opposition activists Sidya Toure and Baidy Aribot, according to aides.

Guinea’s opposition had originally planned to limit the demonstration to Conakry but announced last week the “peaceful march” was being widened into a nationwide show of defiance.

It followed two weeks of clashes in April between anti-government activists and security services which left several people dead and dozens wounded in the country’s largest towns and cities.

Guinea’s opposition boycotted parliament in March in protest over the timetable for the presidential ballot, accusing Conde of using the Ebola epidemic as an excuse to postpone voting.

The opposition had called for the local elections — originally planned for the beginning of 2014 — to be held before this year’s October presidential vote but they are not due to take place until March 2016.

Conde has insisted the country’s constitution rules out the kind of changes to the election timetable sought by opposition supporters.

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