Fresh protests held in tense Guinea capital

Thousands of Guinean protesters took to the streets in the capital Conakry Thursday, in fresh demonstrations days after deadly clashes marred a funeral march for those killed in recent anti-government marches.

The poor West African country has been shaken by deadly clashes during weeks of protest over suspicions that President Alpha Conde is seeking to prolong his rule.

Demonstrators on Thursday vowed to march peacefully and demanded the release of government critics imprisoned since the beginning of the anti-government unrest.

Tensions in the capital are high just days after the deaths of three youths, who the opposition says were shot by the security services as they attended a funeral march for 11 people killed in unrest since mid-October.

At least 16 civilians and a police officer have been killed during the weeks of bloody clashes with security forces, according to the opposition, with dozens injured and dozens more arrested.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC, an alliance of opposition groups that is behind the protests, plans further rallies in other parts of the country.

Unlike the first demonstrations, these have obtained the green light from authorities.

Conde has blamed the protesters for the gunfire and accused the opposition of trying to overthrow the government.

A former opposition figure who was jailed and spent time in exile under Guinea’s previous authoritarian regimes, Conde became the country’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

The 81-year-old, whose second term ends next year, launched constitutional consultations in September, saying the former French colony’s basic law “concentrates corporate interests” and needed reform.

But his adversaries say the president will try to push through an amendment allowing him to seek a third term in the nation of 13 million. He has neither confirmed nor denied his intention to seek a third term in elections due in 2020.