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21 Mar 2020 | 10:32 AM UTC

Guinea: Clashes reported ahead of election day March 21 /update 15

Protesters clash with police amid violent election-related protests in Guinea March 21; heightened security presence and transportation disruptions expected over the coming hours

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Event

On Saturday, March 21, clashes broke out ahead of the Guinean legislative elections and constitutional referendum scheduled for Sunday, March 22. In Labé, protesters clashed with police forces before burning down the Palais de la Kolima polling station. Similarly, in Yomou, the Justice Court was also set on fire early in the morning.

The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) opposition party has called for protests to take place across the country on Saturday and Sunday to denounce the vote and call for its cancelation.

A heightened security presence is expected around all demonstration sites and political rallies. Business disruptions and increased security measures are anticipated in the lead-up to the rescheduled legislative elections and constitutional referendum, as well as following the vote.

Context

The legislative election and referendum had already been postponed from March 1 to March 15, due to concerns raised by international observers about the electoral register. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie had then ceased its electoral-monitoring mission, citing 2.49 million "problematic" entries on the electoral register.

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-term limit. 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 recent weeks which have sometimes resulted in violence.

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.