The opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) announced its intention on Wednesday, September 16, to stage a series of demonstrations in Conakry and other areas of the country from Tuesday, September 29, in protest against President Alpha Conde's candidacy in Guinea's upcoming presidential election. No timings or precise locations were given for the planned marches, but FNDC leaders called for rallies in Conakry and the capital's suburbs.
The declaration came hours after Conde announced the extension of Guinea's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, including a ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people and national movement restrictions, until October. The move means that the restrictive measures will remain in place until three days before the October 18 elections, prompting accusations from opposition and civil society groups that the government is using the pandemic as a pretext to suppress political dissent going into the polls. The September 29 protests are almost certain to be banned under the state of emergency restrictions, but organizers have insisted that social distancing and hygiene measures, including the issuing of face masks, will be implemented at the demonstrations.
Recent political demonstrations in Conakry, including on September 7 and Monday, September 14, have seen clashes between protesters and security forces and the arrest of opposition activists. Further protests related to the arrests are scheduled to be held the Ministry of Justice in Conakry on Friday, September 18, but have been prohibited by local authorities.
A heightened security presence should be expected in the vicinity of all demonstrations. Localized disruptions are also likely and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
President Alpha Conde has accepted his party's nomination to run as their candidate in the presidential election on October 18. Conde has been in power since 2010 and pushed through a change in the constitution following a referendum in March that effectively reset the two-term limit in the constitution. Opposition supporters boycotted the referendum and have held widespread protests over the amendments in recent months, which have frequently resulted in clashes with security forces.
Those in Conakry are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and political gatherings, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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