Guinea’s Conde Leaves Door Open To Running For Third Term

The President of Guinea Alpha Conde (C), arrives at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African heads of States which is being held in the Ethiopian capital on February 10, 2020. Michael TEWELDE / AFP

 

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde on Monday left the door open to running for a third term, saying there was “nothing more democratic” than his planned constitutional referendum, which the opposition calls a ploy for him to retain power.

The West African country’s current constitution prohibits Conde from running for a third term, but asked if he would stand for president again, he told French media that it was for his party to decide.

The ruling Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party “can nominate me as it can nominate someone else. For the moment, it is not my concern,” he told France 24 and RFI radio.

The country’s opposition, which has long suspected Conde of seeking to retain power, has led protests since mid-October that have rocked the country and left at least 28 civilians and one police officer dead.

Conde, 81, was a longtime opposition figure who became the nation’s first-ever elected president in 2010 on promises to fight corruption. He was re-elected in 2015.

But he has questioned the relevance of restricting the presidency to two terms.

While a draft constitution maintains the two-term limit, critics fear Conde could use the new text to reset the clock and allow himself two more mandates.

Conde defended the referendum on Monday, saying his current concern was to “endow the country with a constitution that meets the needs of today’s world.”

He said his priorities included “equality between men and women, the fight against genital mutilation, girls being married before the age of 18, and above all the correct sharing of resources,” especially for “the young and the vulnerable”.

“If we want a modern constitution, what is more democratic than a referendum? The British prime minister held a referendum and lost. (Former French president Charles) de Gaulle held a referendum and lost. There is nothing more democratic.”

Last week the US said it was concerned by the planned vote.

“We question whether the process will be free, fair and transparent and accurately reflect the will of all eligible voters,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The European Union meanwhile has said that “unity and peace in Guinea must prevail over partisan interests”.

AFP

Guinea Set To Vote Over New Constitution Despite Protests

Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president's suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP
Guinean police patrol in Conakry on January 14, 2020, on the second day of open-ended protests against the president’s suspected bid to prolong his rule. CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde is set to hold a constitutional referendum next month, government sources said, despite protests led by an opposition alliance fearful that the poll is a ploy to enable him to stay in office.

The announcement of a referendum date is likely to further heighten tensions in the West African nation of 13 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite considerable mineral resources.

On Thursday, three people were killed in clashes with security forces in the opposition stronghold of Labe, the city’s mayor said.

At least 26 civilians and one gendarme have died in protests to date, according to an AFP tally.

The referendum may be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections on February 16, a source close to the president’s office told AFP Thursday, asking not to be named.

The cabinet asked the 81-year-old Conde “to fix an appropriate date for holding the referendum”, the government said in a statement late Thursday.

“This electoral timetable will be the object of a presidential decree,” it said.

Guinea has seen major demonstrations against Conde’s rule since mid-October, with a harsh crackdown.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution.

When he announced his plan of putting a new constitution to the electorate in December, the opposition voiced suspicions that he sought to start his time in office afresh with an election late in 2020.

A draft constitution presented in December still limits the number of presidential terms to two.

Conde has simply argued that laws from the French colonial era need to be amended, with no reference to the presidential mandate.

Tens of thousands of people have been called out on the streets against a possible third term by an alliance of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society organisations.

Conde on Thursday ordered his security and justice ministers “to take all necessary steps to restore peace and security in the zones that have been affected in the past few days by acts of disorder, looting and vandalism,” according to the government.

 

AFP

Guinean Opposition Calls For Fresh Demonstrations After Protest Crackdown

Guinea Map

 

An opposition coalition in Guinea on Monday called for demonstrations from October 14 despite a government crackdown on protests after President Alpha Conde sparked speculation he would seek a controversial third term.

Last month Conde, 81, called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring talk that he was planning to overcome a constitutional ban on a third term in office.

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.

He was re-elected five years later but has questioned two-term limits and cracked down on protests against him seeking another term.

He has attracted criticism for deadly use of gunfire by police to quell demonstrations. Scores have been killed, according to the opposition.

Conde has not publicly called for constitutional change, although last month he tasked Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana with staging wide-ranging “consultations” on the national charter.

In a declaration published on Monday following an extraordinary meeting, the opposition coalition FNDC said it was “delighted” not to have taken part in the process.

It called it a “masquerade disguised under the label of consultations which was just a new delaying tactic intended to serve as an excuse to legitimise the process of constitutional coup undertaken by the Guinean authorities”.

The opposition umbrella group — the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) — was formed in April by the main opposition parties, civil society associations and trade unions to oppose a possible third term.

The coalition added that it was “calling for all Guineans” to mobilise by demonstrating from October 14.

Conde’s second term — the maximum under the present constitution — expires in October 2020.

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.

Human Rights Watch has meanwhile called on Conde to ensure opposition parties’ right to protest saying “a blanket ban” on demonstrations was not “a proportionate response to the risk of violence during protests”.

“The government of Guinea has effectively banned street protests for more than a year, citing threats to public security. Local authorities have prohibited at least 20 political or other demonstrations,” it said in a statement.

“Security forces have tear gassed those who defy the ban, and arrested dozens of demonstrators.”

HRW West Africa director Corinne Dufka said the right to peaceful protest was “a fundamental pillar of democratic governance”, adding that “the Guinean government should act quickly to find a way to respect the right to protest while protecting public safety”.

President Of Guinea, Alpha Conde Turbaned As ‘Talban Daura’

 

The President of Guinea, Alpha Conde has been turbaned by the Emir of Daura, Umar Faruk Umar as the ‘Talban Daura’.

President Conde was honoured at a ceremony held at the palace of the Emir on Sunday.

In his remarks, the Emir extolled the virtues of President Conde, adding that the honour is in recognition of the love he (Conde) has shown President Muhammadu Buhari and the people of Daura.

Dressed in traditional royal robes, President Conde was presented with a sword, a horse and a gift of cows.

The Governor of Katsina State who also witnessed the turbaning thanked the Emir for the honour.

Guinea’s Alpha Conde Visits Buhari In Daura

 

President Alpha Conde of Guinea Saturday visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.

The aircraft conveying President Conde and his aide touched down at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport at about 4:35 pm.

On his arrival, he was received by the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, in company with his deputy, Mannir Yakubu, and the security chiefs in the state.

READ ALSO‘Extremism Is Like A Cancer,’ Buhari Challenges Muslims On Good Virtues

Others at the airport to receive the Guinean leader include members of the business and academic communities, religious and traditional leaders, among other dignitaries in the state.

Governor Masari, thereafter, escorted Mr Conde to President Buhari’s hometown in Daura in a helicopter at about 4:52 pm.

During the visit, the Guinean President met with the Emir of Daura, Farouk Umar.

See photos below:

 

President Buhari with President Alpha Conde, Governor Masari, and Emir of Daura in Daura, Katsina State on August 10, 2019.

I Will Return Soon – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has re-assured Nigerians that he is recuperating fast and would return soon to continue serving his people.

He made the promise in a letter he wrote to the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, thanking him for the nationwide prayers held last week by Guineans for his recovery and good health.

The President who had earlier made a phone call to Conde, who is also the Chairman of the Assemblies of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), expressed his gratitude in the letter dated July 24, 2017.

This was made known on Tuesday in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina.

“I thank you for your kind and thoughtful action in organising nationwide prayers for my good health. It is a gesture that I will forever cherish and treasure.

“Your Excellency will be pleased to hear that I am making good progress, and as soon as doctors advise, I shall return to my duties and continue serving the Nigerian people who elected me and are daily praying for my recovery,” the letter read.

In an earlier letter, President Buhari had also accepted his nomination as leader of the ‘2018 AU Theme on the Fight Against Corruption’, which came from African leaders at the 29th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 4, 2017.

“While thanking you for the kind words and for the nomination, I wish to express my readiness to accept this new important role and to reiterate my commitment to contribute towards our collective efforts to strengthen good governance and development on the continent.

“I, therefore, look forward to working closely with you in the realisation of this objective,” the President wrote.

Read Also: Buhari Meets With APC Governors/ Leaders In London

This is coming few days after the President met with governors and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in London.

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who is also the head of the APC governors and was among the delegation, said President Buhari was delighted to receive them.

According to Okorocha, the President was very cheerful and has not lost any bit of his sense of humour.

He added that they spent more than an hour with him over lunch and discussed developments in each state, after which he stated that he would be returning soon.

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Final Chance To Resign

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Last Chance To ResignWest African leaders have given Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, what they say, is a final opportunity to cede power after Senegalese troops entered the Gambia.

Mr Jammeh has been given until 12 noon on Friday to leave office or be forced out by un-backed regional military.

Troops have however been told to halt their advance until the deadline passes.

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), is acting in support of Adama Barrow, who was sworn in as the new Gambian President on Thursday in neighbouring Senegal.

Meanwhile, last-ditch mediation talks, led by Guinea’s President, Alpha Conde, are due on Friday morning.

Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, has however said that if the meeting with Mr Conde proved unsuccessful, then militarily action would follow.