The Guinean government has issued a vigorous warning to the opposition, calling for mass mobilization starting Monday to block the project loaned to President Alpha Condé to run for a third term in late 2020.
The protest, which has been severely repressed several times, has resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians and a gendarme since mid-October. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), the collective of parties, unions and members of civil society which is carrying out the protest, called from Monday onwards for a “massive” and “unlimited” mobilization which gives rise to fears new violence.
The FNDC proclaims the peaceful nature of its action. But in a statement released overnight from Saturday to Sunday, the government accuses some of the opposition leaders of seeking to « plunge Guinea into disorder. »
« Public power will be exercised in all its rigor towards those who want to disturb public order and deny other Guineans the free exercise of their fundamental rights », he assures, invoking in particular the risk of disturbances of the economic activity.
The government has previously raised concerns about public order and the absence of a demonstration permit to severely suppress the first rallies starting in October. He then authorized the demonstrations under conditions, without the violence ceasing completely.
Since mid-October, the FNDC has repeatedly taken tens or hundreds of thousands of Guineans to the streets in this small country of 13 million people.
The opposition is convinced that the head of state, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015, intends to stand for re-election in late 2020, when the Constitution limits the number of presidential terms to two. She was reinforced in her fears in December when Mr. Condé, 81, indicated that he intended to submit to the Guineans a draft of a new Constitution, even if he did not express himself on his personal intentions.
Human rights defenders denounce the excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and the impunity of the security forces.
At the dawn of a busy year, with legislative elections planned for February, a presidential election and perhaps a referendum, the international community fears escalation in a country with a troubled history, customary of demonstrations and brutal repressions.
Tensions were further heightened at the end of the past week by a teachers’ strike over salary increases. An 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were shot dead Thursday during the protests. Eleven trade unionists were arrested on Saturday, said a union official, Aboubacar Soumah, and their union’s lawyer, Mr. Salifou Béavogui.