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Guinea opposition vows new protests over Conde re-election bid

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FILE PHOTO: Guinea’s President Alpha Conde addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI/FILE PHOTO

Guinea’s opposition vowed Tuesday to return to the streets after the party of President Alpha Conde confirmed the octogenarian will seek a third term in office, a prospect that already sparked deadly mass protests.

“It is now clear even to the most sceptical that Mr. Alpha Conde who claims to have fought for decades for democracy in Guinea is none other than the biggest disappointment in the political history of our country,” the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) said in a statement.

Conde, now 82, this year pushed through a revamped constitution that opponents say was crafted to reset the term counter, enabling him to run again in the vote set for October 18 in the poor West African state of 13 million.

The televised statement by the ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) on Monday ended months of speculation over Conde’s candidacy, which the FNDC blasted as “outrageous and conflict-inducing”.

The FNDC, an umbrella grouping of parties, labour unions and civil society groups, said its protest actions against a Conde candidacy would soon enter a “decisive phase”, without setting a date for a new action.

The movement, with protesters wearing trademark red T-shirts, has survived repeated crackdowns, with dozens of dead since October 2019.

Under Guinea’s constitution, presidents may only serve two terms. But according to analysts, the new constitution could reset the presidential term counter and enable him to run a third time — a view now confirmed by the RPG.

Conde is himself a former opposition figure who was jailed under previous regimes in Guinea, a former French colony rich in minerals but plagued by entrenched poverty and a history of instability.

Hopes of a new political dawn flourished when Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010, winning re-election five years later, but critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.


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