Guinea Prepares for Vote Amid Fears of More Violence

Guinea’s voters go to the polls Sunday, deciding whether to grant a controversial third term to their 82-year-old president, Alpha Conde. Big pictureConde promoted constitutional reform, approved in a March referendum, that limits a president to two terms. But it also allows Conde to reset the starting point of his term, the government’s information minister, Amara Sompare, told VOA. Many in the West African nation think a third term is illegal and have demonstrated to show their opposition. Violence repeatedly has broken out between protesters and government supporters — before the March referendum and legislative elections and in the run-up to the presidential vote. Early this month, Supporters for the current president and presidential candidate, Guinea President Alpha Conde, walk through the city center with hundreds of trucks during a campaign rally in Conakry, Oct 15, 2020.Guinea’s security minister, Albert Damantang Camara, disputed the FNDC tally.  “There have been violent deaths, which we regret, and we are working to ensure that this does not happen again,” he told AFP. The Supporters of main opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo stand on a van at a campaign rally in Conakry, Oct. 14, 2020.ECOWAS, the African Union and United Nations jointly called for a “credible, transparent and peaceful presidential election,” after representatives on a recent visit to Guinea found “prevailing mistrust among the [election] stakeholders.” The representatives urged Guinean authorities to “secure the electoral process,” protect candidates and their supporters, and respect human rights. What is the US interest?The United States broke off ties with Guinea after a 2008 military coup but renewed them with the 2010 vote that brought Conde to power. The U.S. Department of State says its policies aim to “encourage Guinea’s democratic reforms, its positive contribution to regional stability, and sustainable economic and social development.” In a general statement on upcoming African elections, the State Department this month warned against violence and intimidation. It said the U.S. would watch for interference in the democratic process and would “not hesitate to consider consequences — including visa restrictions — for those responsible for election-related violence.” This story originated in VOA’s French to Africa Service.

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