Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Guinea president confirms assassination attempt

AP, CONAKRY

Guinea’s president said his private residence was attacked by gunmen in an attempt on his life that killed one of his presidential guards.

Guinean President Alpha Conde said yesterday on state radio that his security detail “fought heroically at 3:10am until reinforcements arrived.”

He called on the population of the West African nation to stay calm and avoid reprisal attacks, saying he had promised to bring change.

“Our enemies can try everything, but they will not stop the march of the Guinean people,” he said.

Reached by telephone, Francois Fall, a minister at the presidency, confirmed the attackers had killed at least one member of the presidential guard, injured others and destroyed part of Conde’s home.

Heavy shooting had erupted overnight yesterday next to Conde’s private home, residents said, just months after he came into office in a deeply divisive election that was nonetheless considered the country’s first free and fair vote.

Guinea has a history of coups. It held its first free and fair election last November, a half-century after winning independence from France. Conde won, but the capital devolved into ethnic riots. Conde’s supporters — who are mostly from the Malinke ethnic group, like him — clashed with members of the largest ethnic group, the Peul, whose candidate was defeated.

Frustration has been growing because Conde failed to create an inclusive government, instead stacking it with members of his ethnicity, and because the country’s grinding poverty has not yet been alleviated. His relationship with the military — which has been behind every one of Guinea’s past coups, including the most recent one in 2009 — has been strained.

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