Opposition hits back at security minister

Guinea's umbrella opposition coalition, the Republican Front for Democratic Change (FRAD), has strongly attacked the country’s Security Minister, Aboubacar Sampil, accusing him of trying to crush the opposition and warning he should be prepared for the worst.

FRAD’s attack on Sampil came at a news conference in Conakry on Tuesday. It was the opposition’s first press encounter since the Supreme Court approved just one candidate to challenge President Lansana Conte in next month's presidential elections and since the brief detention of opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore.

Ba Mamadou, FRAD chairman and head of the opposition Guinean Union of Democratic Forces (UFDG), said Dore’s arrest was the second time a politician had been arrested on the instructions of the security minister because they had expressed their views publicly.

Mamadou pointed to the arrest of his UFDG deputy, Ba Oury, after he had declared that Guinea no longer had a government.

"Sampil has turned this country into a police state, to the extent of usurping the functions of the judiciary", Ba Mamadou told journalists. He accused the minister of aiming to break the opposition, warning: "he himself should be prepared for the consequences."

FRAD formally declared their support for striking teachers and bank workers, whose strike action entered its second day on Tuesday and which is already taking its toll on customers.

It insisted that presidential election set for December 21 be postponed by Conte, saying the head of state knew the electoral procedures adopted were not normal. If the elections were not postponed, the opposition said, it would plan a strategy to disrupt the poll.

Jean-Marie Dore used the news conference to thank all those who showed solidarity with him during his recent encounter with the police. He was released from custody on Saturday after being arrested days earlier.

The arrest is believed to have been provoked by an interview he gave to French station Radio France Internationale (RFI) in which he strongly criticised the way in which the upcoming elections were being organised.