Nine people have been confirmed dead and others in critical condition following protests by Guinea nationals against their President Conde’s will to extend his long stay in power.
In a space of only three days, at least nine people have lost their lives after they were beaten and shot at following continued crackdown on opposition protests. Earlier this week, police opened fire on demonstrators opposing a new constitution that could allow Guinea President Alpha Conde to run for a third term.
Thousands of opposition supporters, civil society groups and trade unionists had gathered on Monday 14th October for nationwide demonstrations and strikes.
The coalition, known as the Guinean Organisation for the Defense of Human Rights, were protesting against the president’s bid to adopt a reformed constitution that could extend his time in office beyond the end of his mandate in 2020.
This prompted the Guinean police to shoot with live bullets and also tear gas protesters as they ransacked military posts, threw stones and blocked roads with burning tires in the outskirts of the capital, Conakry.
With the number already at nine sourced indicate that more than 38 locals are hospitalized with wounds and more others could lose their lives in the process.
Conde, 81, was elected as president in December 2010 in the country’s first democratic transition of power since independence from France in 1958. He was re-elected in 2015 for a second and final term that expires in 2020.
Under Guinea’s constitution, adopted just nine years ago, presidents are limited to two five-year terms. A provision of the constitution also forbids changing or amending “the number or duration of the mandates”.
Because of this provision, the only legal way to get around the presidential term limitation is to call for a referendum on the adoption of a new constitution to replace the current one.
Conde has indicated several times that he wants to run again but has refused to make an official pronouncement on the subject.
Something that has sparked sporadic protests in Guinea over the past two years. Since July 2018, the government has warned against demonstrations as anger grew over the President interest in holding a referendum to allow a third term.
A presidential communique released on Monday stressed Conde’s “total commitment to democracy” especially his history as an opposition leader.
He also invited opposition members to participate in open dialogue “without limits or taboos” to discuss matters of national concern.
However, they made no mention of whether Conde would talk about the proposed new constitution or his intentions for a third term during such a dialogue.
By John Dalton Kigozi