Guinea suspends run-off campaigning after clashes

Former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo
Image caption Mr Diallo is seen as the favourite for the presidency after gaining 44% of the vote in the first round

Campaigning for next Sunday's run-off in Guinea has been suspended after at least one death in weekend clashes.

Following a series of meetings in the capital, the two rival presidential candidates have promised to do all they can to stop the violence.

Both former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde pledged to control their supporters.

There are reports the election could be postponed.

Sources in the office of Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore told the BBC's Alhassan Sillah they were thinking of delaying the poll.

Mr Dore said: "We will not hold an election if this will end in a fist-fight," according to the AP news agency.

However, he also said: "Nobody is talking about delaying the election at this point."

He held separate meetings with Mr Diallo and Mr Conde on Monday.

While the rival candidates pledged to end the clashes, they also said the government should "take its responsibility".

Our reporter says Monday was peaceful, with nobody trying to defy the campaign ban.

The first round of the poll in June was seen as the first democratic poll since independence from France in 1958 but correspondents say the violence, rising ethnic tensions and recent allegations of fraud could undermine the run-off.

Last week, the head of the election commission and a senior official were each sentenced to a year in jail for tampering with the votes during the first round.

Ethnic rivalry

Campaigning was suspended after an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday night.

Guinea's military leader Gen Sekouba Konate, who has promised to return the country to civilian rule, has cancelled a planned trip to Lebanon to deal with the rising tensions.

The authorities said that anyone holding demonstrations or rallies would be arrested and extra police officers have been deployed on the capital's streets.

Live ammunition had been used during the weekend clashes, according to the head of the paramilitary gendarmerie, who said that two people had died.

Image caption Votes cast for Alpha Conde were wrongly annulled in the first round, a court found

Other reports, however, say one person lost their life.

About 50 people were injured in the violence, which began after the two candidates held rallies in the capital, Conakry, on Saturday and Sunday.

Both Mr Diallo's Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UDFG) and Mr Conde's Rally for the People of Guinea (RPG) have accused each other of starting the violence.

On Sunday, rival supporters threw stones at each other in the suburb of Hamdallaye, where both candidates' parties have their headquarters, the AFP news agency said. Nearby cars were also reportedly attacked.

Saturday's clashes, which left a number of people with serious injuries, happened near Mr Conde's home in the Mafanco district, as well as in Hamdallaye and in Dixinn, where the electoral officials were tried in absentia last week.

The court said the two electoral officials had wrongly annulled about 600,000 votes cast for Mr Conde, whose party had lodged a complaint.

Ahead of the poll, tension is reported to be growing between ethnic Peul and Malinke - the two largest communities in the country.

Mr Diallo, a Peul, is seen as the favourite for the presidency after gaining 44% of the first round vote, compared to 18% for Mr Conde, a Malinke.

A member of the Peul ethnic group has never been president and many feel it is their turn after previous elections were rigged.

The Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta, which seized power after the death in 2008 of the autocratic President, Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country for 24 years.

Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite and also has important deposits of iron ore.

But despite its mineral wealth, most of its people languish in poverty.

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