Guinean leader stirs re-election talk in referendum call

Tuesday September 24 2019

Guinea's President Alpha Conde. He is the first democratically-elected president of Guinea. PHOTO | WU HONG | AFP


President Alpha Conde of Guinea has called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring speculation that he will seek to overcome a constitutional ban on a third term in office.

In a video posted on social media late Monday, the 81-year-president said: "I ask you to get organised and prepare for a referendum and elections."

Conde on Monday met with members of the Guinean community in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

His office did not immediately respond to questions from AFP.

Conde is a former opposition figure who came to power in 2010, becoming the first democratically-elected president of Guinea, an impoverished former French colony in West Africa.

But he has also been criticised for deadly use of gunfire by police to quell demonstrations. Scores have been killed, according to the opposition.


Conde's second term—the maximum under the present constitution—expires in October 2020, but he has repeatedly questioned the value of term limits.

He has not publicly called for constitutional change, although earlier this month he tasked Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana to stage wide-ranging "consultations" on the national charter.

The "consultations," which have been boycotted by the main opposition parties, are scheduled to end on Wednesday.

Legislative elections should have been held last year, but were indefinitely postponed.

Conde has called for them to be held by the end of the year. The head of the national electoral commission has proposed staging them on December 28, but opposition representatives on the panel say the date is unfeasible.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in talks with Conde, said the United States urged "regular, democratic transitions of power, which yield more accountability, stronger institutions, and less corruption," according to the State Department.