Opposition parties in the West African nation of Guinea today begin a multi-week series of demonstrations protesting incumbent President Alpha Conde’s bid for a third term.
Protests have roiled Guinea since mid-2019, when Conde announced a constitutional referendum expanding the presidential term limits, making him eligible for two additional six-year terms. Conde justified the move by referring to the pressing need for “social modernisation,” including the end of female genital mutilation. Despite opposition boycotts and three-way street clashes between protesters, counter-protesters and security forces, voters approved the new constitution in March, allowing Conde to contend in the current race.
Ethnic divisions between the Malinke and Guerze tribes, the latter of which largely supports Conde, are likely to boil over on October 18, election day. The police and gendarmerie, which have been unsuccessful in effectively containing the violence so far, are likely to face a serious challenge. Unless Conde changes his authoritarian course and opts to reinforce power-sharing mechanisms in the constitution, expect the country to descend into further political turmoil.
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James is an analyst on the Current Developments Team, where he specialises in European and Indian politics. He is a regularly contributor to the Daily Brief