Africa News

Guineans overwhelmingly vote to back controversial new constitution

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Guinea has voted to back a contested new constitution, the countrys electoral body said Friday, in a blow to President Alpha Condes opponents who fear the reforms are a ploy to extend his grip on power.

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The proposal to change the constitution was hugely controversial in the West African state, spurring mass demonstrations in which at last 32 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally.

Independent National Electoral Commission president, Amadou Salifou Kebe, told reporters that 91.59 percent of ballots were in favour of adopting the new constitution, while 8.41 percent were against.

Turnout was 61 percent, he added, saying that these were provisional figures.

The vote was originally planned for March 1 but was postponed until March 22 because of international criticism of its fairness.

The authorities went ahead with it after scrubbing some 2.5 million unverifiable names from its electoral register, following advice from the West Africa bloc ECOWAS.

The day of the vote was marred by violence, with scores of polling stations ransacked across the country and, according to the countrys political opposition, dozens killed.

Authorities have said only a few deaths occurred on polling day, and that the voting took place in peace.

In a sign of impatience with Condes government abroad, however, France, the United States, and the United Nations have all expressed their reservations about the vote on March 22.

France, the former colonial power, condemned election-related violence in Guinea this week and said the vote was not credible.

The United States also said this week that the situation in Guinea was worrying and that it shared international concerns about the fairness of the vote, and the lack of political dialogue surrounding it.

The United Nations special representative to West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, released a statement too, saying he was following developments “with great concern”.

Eric Humphery-Smith, a senior analyst at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, said the election outcome was “no surprise,” but that the scale of the presidents win was.

“The result is a victory for Conde, allowing him to stand for that prized third term,” he said.

Third term

The result may open the way for Conde, 82, to pursue another term in office when his second one runs out this year by bypassing term limits.

A former opposition figure jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde made history in 2010 as the first democratically-elected president in a country with a chronic history of military coups and turmoil.

Voters returned him to office in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution, but critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

The government argues that the constitution needs to be updated to usher in badly-needed sRead More – Source