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Guinea opposition quits parliament, promises demos

June 9, 2014

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s opposition announced Monday it is pulling out of parliament and threatening street demonstrations, which will paralyze the institution ahead of key votes.

The impoverished, yet mineral-rich, West African country has been wracked by demonstrations and ethnic conflict since presidential elections in 2010, not to mention power cuts and outbreaks of diseases like Ebola. The opposition walkout threatens a return to violence.

“The government refuses to dialogue with the political class, which risks an implosion in the country,” said Aboubacar Sylla, opposition spokesman. “Faced with this situation, we are quitting the parliament and will start demonstrating in the streets.”

The opposition accuses the government of violating a reconciliation agreement signed in July that specified local elections must be held within the first four months of 2014. Most local officials were appointed by the government in 2011 and the opposition believes it can vote them out in an election.

The move paralyzes the parliament which won’t be able to vote on its basic laws or an upcoming mining agreement with British-Australian multinational Rio Tinto worth billions.

“Their departure will make it impossible for the parliament to function,” said Anafiou Bah, a political analyst. “The president’s party, with just a plurality, will not be able to pass the basic law without a majority.”

Alpha Conde’s Rainbow Party won plurality in 2013 parliamentary elections but in January he dismissed the unity government and formed one of just his associates, further alienating the opposition.

Souleymane Doumboya of the Rainbow party expressed his hope that the opposition would return to parliament and engage in dialogue to resolve the crisis.

In a sign of the kind of violence that could break out, an angry mob burned down the headquarters of the Rainbow party in the inland town of Siguiri near the Mali border. Residents said the violence broke out after an associate of a newly elected official was attacked by followers of the ruling party.

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