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Guinea bans political protest during FIFA chief's visit
CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea's government has denied an opposition request to hold a demonstration in the capital Conakry on Thursday, saying the protest would interfere with a visit by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
The head of the world football governing body - wracked by a series of corruption scandals since 2010 - will make a two-day visit to Guinea as part of a four-country tour of Africa before Sunday's African Cup of Nations final.
"The demonstration by the opposition planned tomorrow has not been authorized because we are receiving FIFA President Sepp Blatter," said Alassane Conde, Guinea's Minister for Territorial Administration. "If the opposition decides to continue with its march, the law will be applied."
Guinea security forces are notorious for crackdowns on protesters, with dozens wounded and several killed in sporadic clashes since contested presidential elections in 2010.
The opposition, which was seeking to protest what it claims are flawed preparations for long-delayed parliamentary polls, said the government was using Blatter's visit as a pretext to stiffle dissent.
"Sepp Blatter is not a head of state, and in his own country, Switzerland, protests are authorized," said Guinea opposition leader Sidya Toure, adding that he expected the protest would take place as planned despite the ban.
After being hit by a series of corruption scandals in 2010 and 2011, FIFA has reformed its ethics committee and set up an audit and compliance body to review financial accounting and carry out integrity checks.
On Monday, European anti-crime agency Europol said about 680 matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and the Champions League for top European club sides, have been identified in an inquiry into match fixing by European police forces and national prosecutors.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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