At least one person died and more than a dozen were injured Thursday when opposition protesters clashed with Guinean security forces at anti-government rallies in several towns across Guinea. Demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Conakry and the central city of Labé over a disputed electoral timetable, which opposition leaders claim has been rigged in the government's favor.
In a statement released Thursday, the government confirmed the death of Ousmane Bah, a 28-year-old protester who died after being hit in the neck by a projectile. A hospital source in Labé told AFP that police beat a 25-year-old man to death with their batons. The government of Guinea has said it would open an investigation into the death.
VICE News spent Thursday at opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's house, which had been repurposed as the opposition's headquarters during the day's protests.
It's 10am on Thursday, and VICE News is at the house of Guinean opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, in Conakry's district of Dixinn. Diallo's residence now serves as headquarters for Guinea's main opposition party, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) and anti-government demonstrators have gathered there to take part in a national day of protests.
Around 50 protesters were gathered at Diallo's home when we arrived, including Diallo's bodyguards, family members, and the opposition's communications team. Twenty police officers stood guard outside the house, and Diallo told VICE News that officers were under strict orders not to let him leave his home to take part in the rally.
Throughout the day, other Guinean opposition officials rallied around Diallo to discuss their concerns with the proposed election timetable. According to the current timetable, the presidential election is scheduled for October this year, a few months ahead of local elections slated for March, 2016. The opposition claims the government has refused to bring the local elections forward for fear of defeat in the presidential vote.
Among the opposition officials present at the meeting were representatives of the Rally for the Integral Development of Guinea (RDIG), New Democratic Forces (NFD), Guinean Party for Progress (PGP), Party of Hope for National Development (PEDN), and the Union of Republican Forces (UFR).
At 1pm, delegates held a joint press conference. At the conference, Diallo denounced the police's violent repression methods, and said that, according to reports, one protester had already died in Labé. The conference ended with opposition officials vowing to "keep on protesting."
After the press conference, Diallo and other opposition representatives stepped out into the street, accompanied by a 100-strong escort of anti-government protesters. They were stopped by a police roadblock 100 yards from Diallo's house. At some point, protesters started hurling stones at security forces, which responded with tear gas.
Eventually, the procession retreated back to opposition headquarters, where several protesters were treated for injuries caused by police teargas grenades.
Police finally allowed opposition leaders to leave Diallo's residence in their cars a short time later. Many young protesters who gathered in Diallo's courtyard had to wait several more hours before they were allowed to leave the property.
In an official statement, Guinea's government said that 14 people were injured in Thursday's protests, including 11 police officers. Police also made 93 arrests, according to the statement. An opposition spokesman told AFP that dozens more protesters had been arrested in the western town of Kindia.
Earlier, in mid-April, similar demonstrations led to the death of at least one protester. Several witnesses, including hospital sources, claimed police had fired real bullets on the crowd. The government has denied the accusation.
Guinea's president Alpha Condé is due to return to the country Friday after a brief visit to Paris, where he met with French president François Hollande. As well as discussing the Ebola crisis and security operations in the region, the two leaders spoke about the forthcoming presidential election.
The images in this article were shot by Stéphane Puccini for VICE News. Watch Stéphane and Pierre Mareczko full report on VICE and France 4's new show, Le Point Quotidien.