Guinea: one killed in the first major protest under the junta

Conakry, Guinea

One person was killed Wednesday in the Guinean capital during protests over rising fuel prices, in the most serious unrest since a military junta took power last year.

Gunshots rang out in Conakry overnight as people barricaded streets and burned tires in protest at the 20% rise in gasoline prices, a Reuters reporter and witnesses said.

“The angry young people came out to protest and clash with the security forces,” said Souleymane Bah, a resident of the city’s Koloma neighborhood. “We have heard several shots. There was also tear gas. ”

A protester was shot dead by security forces, according to the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of politicians and activists who opposed former President Alpha Conde’s efforts to maintain the power.

A family member of the victim, who asked not to be named, confirmed that he had been killed in the protest.

Security Minister Bachir Diallo has promised an investigation. “I strongly condemn the actions that have led to the loss of life,” he told reporters.

Wednesday’s protests were by far the largest since Colonel Mamady Doumbouya’s time led a coup against Conde last September. Conde had changed the constitution to allow himself to run for a third term in 2020, sparking widespread anger.

Many of Conde’s opponents, including FNDC leaders, cautiously welcomed the coup, but relations with the Doumbouya junta have soured since then.

Last month, major opposition parties rejected a 36-month transition to democratic elections passed by the interim parliament. Protests on Wednesday took place in neighborhoods known as bastions of opposition support.

In its statement, the FNDC said that the response of the security forces “contrasts with the rhetoric of Colonel Doumbouya when he took power, who criticized the killings during the protests”.

Following criticism of the 36-month timeline, the junta banned all public demonstrations last month, attracting a reprimand from the United Nations.