Guinea’s President Alpha Condé on Sunday cast his ballot in parliamentary polls and disputed constitution referendum in the capital, Conakry.
A referendum critics believe is a ploy by President Alpha Conde to stay in power beyond his current which runs out at the end of this year. The vote originally scheduled for March 1 was postponed because of concerns raised by international observers.
A communication blackout – internet and voice calls – was imposed hours to the vote and throughout the period of the vote. In his address to the press, Conde urged Guineans to comply with the government directives in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
“A message of peace and solidarity, we have taken all the measures, you saw that everywhere there is hand washing, people are keeping a distance from one another, because even if we don’t have many cases, for the moment we have three.
“… so I hope that everything will happen in peace and tranquility, that the people of Guinea, like in 1958, will show their maturity,” Conde said.
According to reports, shortly after voting began at 0800 GMT, Sunday, the police deployed outside a polling station in a school in Ratoma, a suburb of the capital Conakry were attacked.
The police also fired tear gas in clashes with protesters in Guinea’s capital and other cities in a bid to restore calm reports say.
The new constitution would impose a limit of two six-year terms, up from the current two five-year terms. It does not specify whether terms served under the previous constitution would count, but Conde has suggested they would not.
At least 30 people have died since October in protests against the proposed changes. The vote could be a bellwether for a presidential election before year’s end in the country, the largest African producer of the main aluminium ore, bauxite.