At least four people were killed in Guinea Sunday after a referendum vote led to violence between security forces and demonstrators protesting the proposed change. While the government claims that only two people died as a direct result of the violence, other parties claim that as many as 10 people were killed during the vote.
Violence broke out after President Alpha Conde went forward with a referendum to revise the constitution despite months of protests. Conde, who has governed since 2010, released the referendum in December 2019 to extend the presidential term from five to six years. Although the proposed changes uphold the existing two-term limit, the opposition speculates that Conde would use the changes to nullify his previous presidential terms and run for re-election. Since December, the perceived lack of transparency and credibility surrounding the changes have lead to violence and organized demonstrations against a potential power-grab.
The referendum vote and parliamentary elections were postponed in February due to “national and regional responsibilities,” causing citizens to question Conde’s reliability and the voting system generally.
In historically authoritarian Guinea, opposition and civil society groups represented by the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution have called for additional protests later this week to preserve the democratic process.