Opposition protests: two people killed

Peaceful Assembly

Opposition protests: two persons killed

On 16th October 2018, one person was killed by live ammunition, reportedly fired by the anti-crime brigade, during a two-day 'ville morte' (dead city) protest action organised by the opposition. The protest action took place in Conakry on 15th and 16th October 2018 to denounce what opposition calls the manipulation and corruption in the installation of municipal councils by the ruling party. According to witnesses, clashes between young protesters and security forces took place, with the use of tear gas and the throwing of rocks, following the killing of 22-year old Ibrahima Bah. In Kindia, 100 km away from Conakry, security forces used tear gas when clashes occurred between opposition members and members of the ruling party. Several people were reportedly injured and there was material damage, including to a mosque and houses, while shops were looted. On the first day of the protest action, 15th October, six people were arrested in Conakry. As reported previously on the Monitor, the opposition in Guinea contested the results of the local elections held on 4th February 2018, and clashes between opposition members and security forces led to the deaths of several people. 

One week later, on 23rd October 2018, opposition braced themselves to protest again, despite the protest being banned by local authorities. Clashes between security forces and protesters were reported in different places in Conakry, while one person was killed by a bullet. Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo of the Union des forces démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG; Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea) meanwhile claims the vehicle he was travelling in was shot at, with a bullet piercing through the front and rear windscreens.

Protests against the dismissal of the president of the Constitutional Court

On 19th September 2018, about 200 people protested in front of the Constitutional Court in Conakry against what the participants called a 'constitutional putsch'. The protest, initiated by social movement Balai citoyen Guinée and supported by civil society groups and opposition, related to the dismissal of the president of the Constitutional Court, Kéléfa Sall, by the eight other magistrates of the Court in early September. In a statement on 17th September 2018, the Court justified the dismissal by saying that Kéléfa Sall had "lost all legitimacy and confidence" of the Court. According to the protesters and other observers, the dismissal is political and relates to comments that  Kéléfa Sall made during the inauguration of president Alpha Condé in December 2015, at the start of his second term, warning Condé of "succumbing to the melody of revisionist sirens". Opposition and civil society actors fear that the move is part of efforts to change the Constitution to allow president Condé a third term in office after 2020, beyond the current two-term limit. 

Civil society groups condemn ban of protests

On 6th August 2018, the human rights organisation Organisation guinéenne de défense des droits de l'homme et du citoyen (OGDH; Guinean Organisation of Protection of Human and Citizen's Rights) condemned the systematic ban of protests in Guinea since the protests against the fuel hike price in July 2018, organised by the civil society coalition Forces sociales de Guinée. At the basis of the controversy is an alleged letter from the governor of Conakry, in response to the Forces sociales de Guinée's notification for a protest, which referred to the measure 'banning all protests on streets on the entire territory' taken by the Minister of Territorial Administration, a measure the Minister in question denies. However, authorities reportedly have banned all protests since the protest against the fuel hike price on 10th July, often invoking the 'security context' or the 'good conduct of the pilgrimage to Mecca'. Hamidou Barry of OGDH said to RFI: 

"First, the regime in Guinea is the regime of declaration. We inform. This is not an authorisation. Second, if the town halls do not prohibit, another authority cannot prohibit. Nowhere is it mentioned in the Penal Code that a minister can intervene. It's not legal." (translated from French)

Members of Forces sociales de Guinée initiated legal action against the governor of Conakry, General Mathurin Bangoura, for banning their protest of 23rd July 2018. Bangoura is sued for 'abuse of authority' and 'obstacles to the right to protest' before the Court of Kaloum. On 17th September 2018, the Court postponed the hearing to 1st October 2018, and summoned the presence of General Mathurin Bangoura, who was absent. No further information was available at the time of writing. 

Teachers on strike, students protest

On 3rd October 2018, teachers started a new unlimited strike, demanding a higher minimum wage for teachers in the public sector of at least 8 million GNF (875 USD). The strike, which was called by Syndicat libre des enseignants et chercheurs de Guinée (SLECG; Free Trade Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea), started on the day when students were expected to start the new school year. As reported previously on the Monitor, the previous teacher's month-long strike ended on 13th March 2018. 

In response to the strike, students protested on 22nd October 2018 in several neighbourhoods of Conakry to demand a resumption of courses and the return of their teachers, who were in some cases replaced by contractual teachers. According to some media reports, clashes between protesters and security forces took place, with young protesters throwing rocks and security forces using tear gas in response. 

Use of tear gas by security forces to disperse protesters

On 10th September 2018, gendarmes reportedly used tear gas against Port employees who gathered in front of the National Directorate of the Autonomous Port of Conakry. Protests and strikes of employees of the Port have been ongoing since the signing of a controversial contract by Guinean authorities in August 2018, giving a concession for the management of a part of the Port to the Turkish business group Albayrak for a duration of 25 years. A trade union leader was arrested a couple of days later (see under Association).

Human Rights Watch said on 24th July 2018 that they have found credible evidence that security forces used excessive, and lethal, force during the violent clashes following the disputed local elections of 4th February 2018 and during the teachers' strike of 12th February 2018. A total of seven people were shot in Conakry, while one gendarme died due to a rock thrown by a protester. While the protests often turned violent, security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas into the air and in some cases towards protesters. Corinne Dufka of Human Rights Watch said: 

“Three months after Guinea’s latest round of bloody election violence the authorities have taken no concrete steps to sanction the members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations. The only way to break Guinea’s cycle of political violence and to provide justice for the victims is to conduct credible investigations and hold those implicated accountable.”

Expression

In the early hours of 7th August 2018, three armed men broke into the premises of Renaissance FM in Ratoma, a suburb of Conakry, and stole a considerable amount of equipment and 68 million Guinean francs (7,500 US dollars). The armed men threatened the only technician present in the offices. 

Association

On 17th September 2018, secretary general of the trade union delegation of workers of the Autonomous Port of Conakry Cheick Chérif Touré was arrested, according to local media reports. He is accused of slanderous denunciation and defamation of the Head of State, Alpha Condé and his son. He was allegedly arrested after a protest of the Port's employees against the recent concession of a part of the port to the Turkish company Albayra (see Peaceful Assembly). On 1st October 2018, the Court of First Instance of Kaloum found Chérif Touré guilty on the charge of defamation, ruling a prison sentence of 13 days in prison and a fine of 500,000 GNF (50 USD).