Guineans Stay Home, Mourn Dead From Bloody Protest

Published October 13, 2009

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) -- Thousands of Guineans stayed home Monday and riot police with tear gas canisters patrolled empty streets as the West African nation began two days of mourning for those killed by soldiers during a pro-democracy rally.

Guinea's government issued a statement saying it supported the trade unions' call for people to stay home for two days. The statement was read regularly on state radio and television stations on Monday.

"We have agreed, like the unions, to hold two days of mourning," said the statement. "People will stay quietly in their homes and pray for the departed and we will not tolerate any acts of demonstrations."

The government says 57 people died at the Sept. 28 protest. A human rights group says 157 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded when soldiers opened fire on 50,000 people at the national stadium.

Police in blue and black riot uniforms armed with truncheons and tear gas canisters patrolled some areas in the capital Monday. The streets were nearly empty of cars and people. Shops, banks and government offices were closed. Public transport was stopped and the main hospital ran on a skeleton staff.

Also Monday, a top cabinet official resigned in protest of September's violent rally. Agriculture Minister Abdulrahmane Sano described the killings as "condemnable." Guinea's government has set up a commission to investigate the shootings.

"This has put me in a difficult position that leaves me with no alternative but to resign from my post as minister of agriculture" Sano said in a resignation letter. "Part of why I accepted the position as minister is that they had a goal to contribute in the area of agriculture and also to bring about a peaceful transition to democratic governance."

Coup leader Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara seized power in a coup in December. He initially said he would not run in elections scheduled for January, but recently indicated that he may have changed his mind. After the deadly protest, he banned all gatherings and demonstrations.

Written by Associated Press

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