Despite crackdown, protests continued against President Condé’s intention to change constitution allegedly so that he can run for third term in 2020. Following calls by National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups against constitutional change, protesters rallied 6, 10, 12 and 15 Dec in capital Conakry and other cities. During funeral procession in Conakry 6 Dec for eight protesters killed in recent confrontations with authorities, protesters again clashed with security forces, reportedly leaving another protester dead. Condé 19 Dec announced new draft constitution, said he would hold referendum to seek voters’ approval. Opposition 20 Dec accused president of staging “constitutional coup”. Nationwide protests against constitutional referendum scheduled for 26 Dec postponed to 6 Jan. Ahead of legislative elections set for 16 Feb, opposition criticised as biased voter registration process and revision of electoral roll that started late Nov. Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of largest opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, 1 Dec accused electoral commission of preventing opposition supporters from registering. Opposition 5 Dec said electoral commission was enrolling minors in strongholds of ruling party Rally for the Guinean People. Political dialogue led by PM’s adviser Laho Bangoura resumed 5 Dec, but opposition pulled out 13 Dec to protest alleged malpractice in voter registration. Electoral commission 16 Dec said registration was complete. Opposition 23 Dec vowed to boycott legislative elections and prevent them from taking place.
Guinea approaches the second free presidential election in its history under difficult circumstances. Unless the government convenes a serious dialogue with the opposition, it risks electoral violence and exacerbating ethnic divisions.
Overdue legislative elections in Guinea could rapidly degenerate into violence in the absence of consensus on electoral procedures.
Rising piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which supplies around 40 per cent of Europe’s oil and 29 per cent of the U.S.’s, demands effective regional security cooperation and better economic governance to prevent the region becoming another Gulf of Aden. The full report is currently only available in French.
Unless Guinea’s main political actors agree on organising the pending legislative elections, there is a risk inter-communal tensions could spark violence that opens the army’s way back to power.
If the armed forces of Guinea are not reformed thoroughly, they will continue to pose a threat to democratic civilian rule and risk plunging the country and the region into chaos.
The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea’s stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
Originally published in The Guardian