UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
GUINEA: Opposition rejects government offer of dialogue
CONAKRY, 25 July 2003 (IRIN) - A coalition of six leading opposition parties in Guinea has rejected a government offer to engage in dialogue ahead of presidential elections due in December, demanding that President Lansana Conte first create an independent electoral commission and allow private radio and television stations to open in the country.
The six parties, grouped in the Republican Front for Democratic Change (FRAD), also demanded an amnesty for political prisoners held by the government and an end to interference by the security forces in the activities of opposition political parties.
FRAD, which includes the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party of veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, set out its position in an open letter to Interior Minister Moussa Solano. He was appointed by Conte on Tuesday to lead a government dialogue with the opposition on the holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.
FRAD chairman Ba Mamadou, told IRIN: "What we are demanding does not need any further negotiations as we've been there before, and now they can make decisions themselves because they know what we want."
He added: "The opposition thinks the offer of dialogue by the government is a ploy to get funds from the international community to fund the election."
Following what was described as "a lack of transparency in the electoral process", the European Commission withdrew its planned funding for legislative elections held last year. Conte's Popular Unity Party (PUP) won an overwhelming majority in the poll.
Mamadou said: "We've now learnt our lesson since 1993 when the first multi-party elections were held here. Elections have always been rigged by the ruling party. We will not allow that to happen this time around."
Conte came to power in a 1984 coup and has ruled Guinea with an iron hand since then, despite the legalisation of opposition parties and privately owned newspapers in 1992.
The 68-year-old former army colonel has been dogged by ill health in recent years, but is widely expected to seek a another five-year term in the forthcoming election.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance
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