Guinea says death toll from protest rises to 12

CONAKRY Mon May 27, 2013 5:28pm EDT

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CONAKRY (Reuters) - At least 12 people have been killed in Guinea during five days of protests over preparations for a legislative election, the government of the West African state said on Monday.

Guinea's opposition called its members onto the streets in March to protest at the government's plan to go ahead with the vote on June 30, over fears the vote will be rigged.

More than 50 people have been killed in total and about 350 wounded since the protests began.

Opposition leaders temporarily suspended demonstrations this month to allow U.N.-brokered talks with the government to take place but later called for the renewed protests, accusing President Alpha Conde of sabotaging the negotiations.

The protests have, however, degenerated into looting and ethnic clashes between Guinea's two main tribes; the Malinke supporters of Conde and the mostly Peul opposition backers.

"Since May 21, almost daily violence has been recorded in some Conakry suburbs, specifically in Bambeto Coza-axis (an opposition stronghold)," government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said.

Camara, citing hospital and security officials, said 12 people had been confirmed dead since then, including seven shot dead when Guinean security forces clashed with opposition protesters in the seaside capital of the world's top bauxite producing nation. He did not say how the other five died.

Guinea's opposition says it was not consulted before the government announced the date for the election and says voter lists are being revised in favor of Conde's allies.

They are calling for the company contracted by the government to revise voter lists, South African firm Waymark, to be replaced and are demanding that Guineans abroad be allowed to vote.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Alison Williams)

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