Guinea's President Conde pardons jailed activists

Guinea's President Alpha Conde arrives at his home in the capital, Conakry, after his victory in elections last year
Image caption Guinea's President Alpha Conde has promised to heal the rift caused by elections

Guinea's President Alpha Conde has pardoned 17 opposition activists jailed for taking part in an illegal rally in April.

The amnesty was aimed at promoting reconciliation after divisive elections last year, the BBC's Alhassan Sillah in the capital, Conakry, says.

Mr Conde had also appointed Guinea's top Muslim and Christian clerics to head a reconcilation commission.

Mr Conde took power in elections that ended military rule last November.

A statement on state radio said Mr Conde "pardons all citizens sentenced following the violence and acts of vandalism" that hit Conakry in April.

Bullet wounds

The unrest erupted after thousands of supporters of defeated presidential candidate Cellou Diallo had gathered to welcome him when he returned from a four-month-long foreign trip to African and Western countries.

Police declared the rally illegal and cracked down on the crowd.

In the clashes that followed, four people were killed and many others sustained bullet wounds.

Our reporter says it is the first time Mr Conde has taken step to promote unity since winning Guinea's first democratic elections since independence in 1958.

The job of the reconciliation commission is to urge Guineans to set aside ethnic differences - which marred the polls - and rebuild the country, he says.

Mr Diallo belongs to the Fula ethnic group while Mr Conde is backed by the Malinkes.

Mr Conde won the run-off election with more than 52% of the vote.

He took over from the military junta that had seized power in December 2008 on the death of the previous President, Lansana Conte, who had ruled for 24 years.

Guineans are among the poorest people in the region, despite the fact that the former French colony is the world's leading exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite.

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