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President approves February vote in turbulent Guinea

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A man holds a placard reading “Alpha Conde serial killer” as Guinean demonstrators protest against the third term of the Guinean President, on November 7, 2019 in Conakry. – Crowds of protesters marched through the Guinean capital of Conakry on November 7 in the latest round of demonstrations against President Alpha Conde, accused of trying to circumvent a bar on a third term in office. (Photo by CELLOU BINANI / AFP)

President Alpha Conde of Guinea has confirmed that parliamentary elections will be held in February, despite violent protests over suspicions that he wants to prolong his rule.

“Guinean citizens of voting age and duly listed on the electoral roll of the present year are called to the ballot boxes for the legislative elections on February 16, 2020,” a presidential decree read out on state television said late Monday.

The date for the vote was unveiled by the electoral commission on Saturday, but it had to be approved by the head of state and political uncertainty still hangs over the poll after previous delays.

The poor West African nation of about 13 million people has been shaken by violence during weeks of demonstrations over opposition suspicions that Conde is seeking a third term in office, banned by the constitution.

Elected for five years, Guinea’s current parliament began work in January 2014.

As a result, the next election is months overdue but has been delayed by political clashes and technical concerns.

The electoral commission previously suggested the voting date of December 28.

But this was rejected by the opposition as unrealistic and part of an alleged ploy by Conde to alter the constitution enabling him to run for a third term in office.

The International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF) — the French-speaking counterpart of the Commonwealth — also said the date should be “reconsidered”.

Electoral commission chairman Amadou Salif Kebe on Saturday said that Guinea had acquired the necessary voting materials, adding that a review of the electoral roll had begun.

Opposition parties, trade unions and representatives of civil society have urged citizens to oppose any bid for a third term by Conde, who has ruled since December 2010. A new demonstration has been called for Thursday.

At least 16 civilians and a paramilitary policeman have been killed since October 14. Dozens of people have been wounded and dozens more arrested.


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