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Several wounded in Guinea pre-election clashes

At least a dozen people have been wounded in Guinea as tensions rose ahead of elections. The West African country is due to hold the first round of its second-ever democratic vote for president on Sunday.

Animosity between supporters of President Alpha Conde and backers of main opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo remained on Friday as the two presidential candidates

wrapped up their campaigns.

Clashes in the capital Conakry since Thursday have left at least two people dead and some 20 injured. Vehicles and stores were torched in the violence which erupted between some members of the rival groups along political and ethnic lines.

Conde, who hopes to be returned to office for a second term after going up against seven presidential opponents, cancelled his last campaign rally due to security concerns.

Diallo asked for Sunday's vote to be delayed, alleging the electoral roll had been stacked in favor of the incumbent, including that minors had been included in the lists of eligible voters.

"We will not participate in a sham election. Otherwise, we will not accept the results and I will mobilise along with all the other candidates and the population to reject it," Diallo told crowds in Conakry on Thursday.

However, Conde said the elections would go ahead as planned.

"If the CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) says they are ready, there is no reason to delay them (elections)," Conde told reporters on Thursday.

History of political violence

So far the run-up to the vote has been more peaceful than in previous years. West Africa associate director for Human Rights Watch Corinne Dufka recalled at least seven deaths in election-related violence in 2010 and about 50 in 2013.

"The concerns about prospects for violence remain. Guinea has a long history of political violence, specifically around elections," Dufka said.

Guinea, a mineral-rich nation which nevertheless remains one of the world's poorest countries, won independence from France in 1958. In recent years it has struggled with an

Ebola virus epidemic

and a slump in global commodities process hitting its exports of bauxite.

se/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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