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Fresh protests in Guinea after disputed elections

Conakry, Guinea | AFP | Thousands of people demonstrated in central Conakry on Monday while in several other districts of the Guinean capital youths erected roadblocks and set fire to tyres, in the latest wave of unrest after disputed local elections.

The country’s main opposition, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), had called for the city to come to a “standstill” in a day of protest against President Alpha Conde.

Tensions have also been stoked by a dissident teacher union’s strike that has gripped the education sector since February 12.

In Conakry’s administrative and business area of Kaloum, several thousand people rallied on Monday to demand that schools be reopened.

Several hundred demonstrators, most of them women and young people, also gathered outside the presidential palace, chanting anti-Conde slogans and demanding an end to the school strike, an AFP reporter saw.

“How can we accept the silence and contempt of the president when our children have been at home for a month?” a mother said to AFP.

In the districts of Boulbinet and Sandervalia, young men wielded sticks, erected barricades and set fire to tyres, diverting traffic, in response to the appeal for a standstill protest.

Protests erupted after elections on February 4, the country’s first at a local level since 2005. According to official results contested by the UFDG, the ballot was won by Conde’s party, the Rally for the Guinean People.

Around 12 people have died in the unrest, some of whom were shot dead by police.

Last Wednesday thousands of women dressed in white, the local colour of mourning, took part in a three-kilometre (two-mile) march in protest at the crackdown.

On Thursday — after Conde was booed by hundreds of angry women at a ceremony to mark International Women’s Day — his office announced there would be a “major cabinet reshuffle,” with ministers installed “who listen to the people”. There has been no further details.

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