Outspoken opposition leader released from jail

Guinean opposition politician, Jean Marie Dore, who was arrested on Thursday for criticising President Lansana Conte in a radio interview has been released.

Dore told IRIN on Saturday, shortly after his release from police custody, that he was detained in Guinea's maximum security prison under "deplorable" conditions. "I slept on an arm chair with my suit and shoes still on," he said.

Dore, who is the leader of the Union for the Progress of Guinea (UPG) and secretary of the opposition alliance, FRAD, was picked up by the police following an interview he gave to the French radio, Radio France Internationale (RFI).

In the interview, Doree reportedly ridiculed a decision by the Guinean Supreme Court to clear only one candidate to challenge incumbent President Conte in presidential elections next month.

He said that Mamadou Bhoye Barry, the lone challenger to Conte in the poll was "a man planted by President Conte himself to show a semblance of democracy in the election."

Barry is the lone parliamentary deputy of a small party that supports Conte's ruling Party of Unity and Progress. He is virtually unknown in political circles

On Saturday, Doree denied insulting the president during his interview with RFI, but insisted that "if a man is sick and that ailment has gotten the better part of his being, then his mental alertness is also affected."

The 69-year-old head of state has been in poor health for several years. He is rarely seen in public and diplomats say he often has difficulty walking.

Doree told sympathisers at his house: "This will not cower me into submission...as a matter of fact I am now determined more than before to see an end to the regime of Conte. The Conte of today is not the Conte of 10 years ago. He has lost his energy to govern."

The Guinean Security Minister Aboubacar Sampil had said Dore would be charged in court because he had insulted the President. Sources said the "change of heart" by the government was due to diplomatic pressure.

An opposition source told IRIN that a western diplomatic mission told Guinean autorities that it was overstepping the legal limits in the treatment of the opposition.

Conte, a former army colonel, has ruled this former French colony of eight million people with an iron hand since he came to power in a coup 19 years ago. He is seeking a further seven-year term but FRAD and other opposition parties have decided to boycott the 21 December presidential election because the government refused to appoint an independent electoral commission and give the opposition free access to state radio and television.