Opposition and civil society accused President Condé of exploiting COVID-19 crisis to silence opposition and tighten his grip on power following highly contested constitutional referendum and legislative elections in March. National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups opposed to constitutional referendum, 7 April denounced wave of arrests of political opponents since govt late March announced COVID-19 state of emergency. Notably, authorities 4 April reportedly detained three militants from main opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) in Koundara area in north west; security forces 5 April reportedly arrested UFDG supporter in capital Conakry. FNDC 7 April threatened to resume anti-govt protests despite its earlier commitment to observe truce amid COVID-19 crisis. FNDC 29 April called on International Criminal Court to open investigation into alleged crimes against humanity by govt in recent months. Electoral commission 1 April announced ruling party Rally for the Guinean People had won 79 out of 114 seats in National Assembly in March legislative elections. After Constitutional Court 3 April said 89.76% voted in favour of constitution changes in March referendum, Condé 6 April promulgated new constitution, which opposition fears could allow him to run for third term. Condé same day announced €340mn emergency plan to mitigate economic impact of COVID-19 crisis amid mounting discontent; notably, taxi drivers late March-early April went on strike in Conakry after govt limited to three number of passengers per taxi. Condé 13 April announced extension of COVID-19 state of emergency until 15 May.
Guinea approaches the second free presidential election in its history under difficult circumstances. Unless the government convenes a serious dialogue with the opposition, it risks electoral violence and exacerbating ethnic divisions.
Overdue legislative elections in Guinea could rapidly degenerate into violence in the absence of consensus on electoral procedures.
Rising piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which supplies around 40 per cent of Europe’s oil and 29 per cent of the U.S.’s, demands effective regional security cooperation and better economic governance to prevent the region becoming another Gulf of Aden. The full report is currently only available in French.
Unless Guinea’s main political actors agree on organising the pending legislative elections, there is a risk inter-communal tensions could spark violence that opens the army’s way back to power.
If the armed forces of Guinea are not reformed thoroughly, they will continue to pose a threat to democratic civilian rule and risk plunging the country and the region into chaos.
The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea’s stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
Originally published in The Guardian