Deaths reported after fresh protests in Guinea; journalists attacked by protesters

Fresh clashes between Guinea’s security forces and protesters unhappy with plans for transitioning back to democracy left one person dead in the capital, authorities said, though the demonstrations’ organisers put the death toll at four.

In a statement read on public television, the prosecutor’s office in Conakry said it had been informed by a local hospital on Friday of the reception of the “body of a 58-year-old man who was shot at his workplace”.

But the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) — the influential coalition that called the protests — said in a statement that the clashes had left “four dead and several wounded by bullets, with five being between life and death”.

In addition, four journalists were “attacked by protesters” on Friday, according to a statement from a local press union, which strongly condemned the “retrograde” acts.

The latest unrest came a day after protests against Guinea’s junta and its handling of plans to return to democracy brought Conakry to a standstill, with organisers claiming that one person was killed on Thursday as well.

Protesters in the Conakry suburbs, defying a government ban, took to the streets on Friday to burn tyres, overturn rubbish bins and throw stones at police vehicles, with officers responding with teargas.

Thursday’s protest took place ahead of comments by the chair of a regional bloc who claimed to have persuaded the junta to shorten its timeline for a return to democracy. The junta has not confirmed his comments.

The FNDC called the demonstrations to denounce the junta’s “unilateral management” of the return to civilian rule after it seized power in 2021.

Speaking alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at a briefing in Bissau on Thursday, ECOWAS regional bloc chair Umaro Sissoco Embalo said he had recently convinced Guinea’s junta to hasten the return to democracy.

“I was in Conakry with the president of the commission (of ECOWAS) to make the military junta understand the decision of the summit of heads of state that the transition cannot exceed 24 months,” Embalo said.

“They had proposed 36 months, but we succeeded in convincing them,” he added.

But Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, a Guinean minister and spokesman for the transitional government, said that “neither the government nor the presidency confirm this information about the duration of the transition in Guinea”.