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28 Feb 2020 | 04:26 AM UTC

Guinea: Tensions remain high ahead of March 1 elections /update 10

Tensions remain high throughout Guinea, notably in Conakry, ahead of legislative elections and constitutional referendum on March 1; heightened security presence reported

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Event

Political tensions remain high across Guinea as of Friday, February 28, as the country prepares for legislative elections and constitutional referendum scheduled on Sunday, March 1. The security presence has been reinforced across the country, with daily and nightly patrols in place, and security forces deployed at polling stations. Checkpoints at border posts have reportedly been reinforced.

Supporters of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) opposition party have held multiple protests within the past weeks, which have sometimes resulted in violence. On Thursday, February 27, demonstrators in Conakry reportedly blocked roads and threw stones at police forces who responded with tear gas. Similar clashes were reported in Pita (Mamou region). In Timba-Madina (Mamou) and Labé (Labé region), some electoral materials have reportedly been destroyed. In Dixinn (Conakry region), protesters marched to demand President Alpha Condé's resignation.

Heightened security measures, including an increased police and military presence, are anticipated near polling stations and throughout Guinea in the leadup to the elections and until after the results are announced. Political protests may also continue. Further clashes  between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

Opposition members allege that President Condé, who has been in power since 2010, is positioning himself to change the constitution in order to allow himself to run for a third presidential term in late 2020. Condé announced on February 4, that the March 1 legislative elections will be coupled with a constitutional referendum. The opposition has denounced the referendum as a constitutional coup enabling Condé to remain in power, and announced it would boycott the vote.

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.