General

Guinea sets March 22 for controversial constitutional referendum

CONAKRY, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has set

March 22 for the constitutional referendum on his proposed reforms that

opponents worry will allow him to bypass term limits and stay in power.

The vote, originally set for March 1 but delayed over local and

international concerns about its fairness, will take place at the same time

as legislative elections, a presidential decree said on Friday.

The campaign will run until March 20 despite some restrictions put in

place on rallies since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the

country. The West African country has seen huge opposition rallies over the

proposal to change the constitution, which many fear will allow Conde, 82, to

seek a third term in office this year.

Since the protests began in October at least 31 protesters and one

gendarme have been killed, according to an AFP tally.

International powers have voiced concern over the referendum, and a US

official on Friday renewed a call for an investigation into the deaths since

October.

“The United States remains concerned about the Government of Guinea’s

plans to hold legislative elections and a constitutional referendum,” a State

Department official said.

“We continue to urge all parties to engage in nonviolent civil dialogue,”

he said.

The former French colony’s constitution now mandates two five-year

presidential terms. Under the new constitution, there would be two six-year

terms.

But critics say the new constitution would also reset the term counter to

zero, allowing Conde to run again when his second term ends this year, a

possibility the government has not denied.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)