Five Children Die in Post-vote Arson Attack in Guinea

Five young children perished in an arson attack during clashes in central Guinea on Tuesday, as anger over alleged fraud during weekend local elections turned deadly and tensions mounted ahead of the results.

Sunday’s local elections were the first since the end of the era of military dictatorship and follow eight years of delays blamed on a lack of funds, political infighting and the 2013-16 Ebola crisis.

Huts and houses were set on fire in the town of Kalinko, and “five Guinean infants died in the flames”, Territorial Administration Minister Boureima Conde said on television on Tuesday, without specifying their age or identity.

Unrest flared in the West African country after the ballot, and one person was killed in western city of Kindia when opposition party supporters clashed with security forces during vote counting on Monday.

The UN’s special representative for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on Wednesday urged all sides to use legal channels to resolve their differences, and deplored “violence that has cost human lives”.

Chambas praised the “smooth running” of the election but said he was aware of “imperfections here and there”.

Opposition leaders have denounced the long-delayed local elections, saying vote rigging with proxy ballots occurred at several polling stations in favour of the party of President Alpha Conde.

Former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, told the press on Tuesday his party had “all the proof of victory”.

“It’s up to Alpha Conde now, as president of the republic, to know what he wants. Because we cannot continue to accept hold-ups at the ballot box,” he said.

Presidential elections in 2010 and 2015 were also marred by violence and fraud accusations, as well as a legislative ballot in 2013.

Diallo said his party had stayed “calm” during those votes, but added “this time, for local elections, we have to mobilise”.

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