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28 Feb 2020 | 09:02 PM UTC

Guinea: President Condé delays elections February 28 /update 11

Legislative elections and constitutional referendum to be delayed for two weeks from March 1; heightened security presence and increased tensions expected

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Event

President Alpha Condé announced on Friday, February 28, that the legislative elections and constitutional referendum scheduled on Sunday, March 1, will be delayed for two weeks. He did not immediately specify a new date for the elections or referendum. In an announcement to state television, he said that the decision was taken due to concerns raised by international observers about the electoral roll. The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie had earlier ceased its poll-monitoring mission citing 2.49 million "problematic" entries on the electoral register.

While opposition leaders have said that they will boycott the elections and the referendum, further protests with potential for violence are now possible in the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence is expected to continue countrywide; daily and nightly patrols are likely to remain in effect place, in addition to an increased security presence deployed at polling stations countrywide. Checkpoints at border posts have also reportedly been reinforced. Government officials had ordered schools to close for several days in the lead up to the elections. Further business disruptions and increased security measures are anticipated in the lead up to the rescheduled legislative elections and constitutional referendum.

Context

President Condé, who has been in power since 2010, is proposing a new constitution via a referendum. The new constitution would increase a presidential term from five years to six, and would impose a two limit term. It is unclear if previous terms served would count, however, Condé has inferred that they would not. The opposition has denounced the referendum as a constitutional coup enabling Condé to remain in power, and announced it would boycott the vote.

Supporters of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) opposition party have held multiple protests in weeks leading up to the elections, which have sometimes resulted in violence. On February 27, demonstrators in Conakry reportedly blocked roads and threw stones at police officers, who responded with tear gas. In Timba-Madina (Mamou) and Labé (Labé region), some electoral materials have reportedly been destroyed.

Advice

Individuals in Guinea, particularly in Conakry, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.