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Guinea political group suspends call for protests

A leading Guinean political group on Wednesday announced it was suspending a call for a demonstration scheduled Thursday that would have been the first under the new ruling junta. The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), which was vocal against former president Alpha Conde, said in a statement that it would give dialogue “a chance” after the head of the transitional government proposed talks. The FNDC had called for people to take to the streets on Thursday in defiance of a recent protest ban announced by the military leaders who overthrew Conde in September. The FNDC, which had orchestrated mass demonstrations against Conde from 2019 to 2021, had planned the protest to demand a shorter transition period back to civilian rule. Junta leaders say the transition will take 36 months. The political collective also planned to protest against the rulers’ “unilateral management” and refusal to engage in dialogue. Two of the main Guinean parties, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) and the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), had supported the call. It would have been the first major street demonstration under the new leadership, which is facing growing discontent. Exasperated Guineans had initially welcomed the putsch. But political parties and civil society say they have been excluded from decision-making by authorities, who are adopting an authoritarian and solitary approach. On May 13, the junta announced a three-year ban on all demonstrations that could, in its view, “compromise activities”. Guinea has a history of political violence. Between 2019 and 2021, dozens of people were killed — mostly by shooting — during protests against Conde’s bid for a third term in office. The FNDC’s call for demonstrations raised fears of renewed tension. After a four-week tour of the country, the junta-appointed so-called transitional prime minister, Mohamed Beavogui, on Monday invited various factions to the table for “frank and inclusive” talks. He said that political and social actors were invited to join in a “genuine dialogue,” with input from ECOWAS, the African Union and the UN. The FNDC announced a one-week “truce” with authorities but warned that if the talks did not lead to convincing results, it would renew its call to demonstrate.

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