World Guinea: authorities recognize the deaths of 30 people
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Guinean authorities have admitted for the first time that violence coinciding with a disputed referendum had killed 30 people in the south in late March, and blamed the opposition for denouncing a maneuver.
The public prosecutor's office of Kankan provided Tuesday the most detailed version to date of the events which occurred in Nzérékoré around March 22 and of a constitutional referendum organized by the capacity but boycotted by the opposition.
Nzérékoré, one of the largest cities in the neighboring country of Liberia, was the scene on March 22 and the following days of clashes between religious and ethnic communities and of attacks and reprisals against churches and mosques, according to local sources.
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These events gave rise to totally divergent versions, like all the violence which plagues this poor little man since mid-October 2019 around the project lent to President Alpha Condé to run for a third term in late 2020.
The independent verifications are very complicated.
The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), a collective of parties, unions and members of civil society which is leading the anti-Condé protest, reported at least 66 people killed in Nzérékoré with machete, rifle and even in flames, and 119 across the country. He accused the presidential party of these abuses.
The authorities have so far downplayed the extent of the violence in the country and publicly spoke of a reduced number of victims.
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Kankan Attorney General Yaya Kairaba Kaba delivered a darker picture on Tuesday.
"Thirty of our fellow citizens lost their lives during these unfortunate events" by Nzérékoré, he said in remarks broadcast by public television. Sixty-seven were injured, dozens of homes, shops and workshops were set on fire, and three churches destroyed, he added.
It was the local FNDC officials who planned the violence and fueled tensions between communities, providing the pretext for the intervention of armed groups paid for by the collective and who came from Liberia for some, from the capital Conakry for others, he said.
Authorities have imprisoned 44 suspects who have been prosecuted for murder, arson or a criminal association, he said. The justice system is working to ensure that the trial "takes place as quickly as possible," he said.
Ibrahima Diallo, an FNDC official, denounced on Wednesday a company aiming to "place the blame for the killings" on the collective. "How to understand that the arrests took place on one side; on the other, no one was worried. It is a total injustice," he told AFP.
The anti-Condé mobilization, severely repressed on several occasions, left dozens dead, attributed by the opposition to the security forces. Human rights defenders constantly denounce the impunity they enjoy. The FNDC alerted the International Criminal Court.
bm-lal / jpc
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