Tuesday 12 December 2017

Thousands take to Guinea's streets to demand local elections

Thousands take to Guinea's streets to demand local elections
(AFP (eng) 08/02/17)

Thousands of opposition activists took to the streets of Guinea's capital on Wednesday to demand local elections be held after a 12-year absence, pressuring President Alpha Conde to set a date.

Former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo led protesters who brandished signs reading "Alpha Conde, seven years of promises is enough" on a march from a Conakry suburb into the city.

Opposition parties were angered when a presidential election was held in 2015, returning Conde to power for a second term, but promised local polls did not go ahead.

All sides agreed last October to hold the vote in February, but no date has yet been set with the deadline long passed. That agreement had also envisaged a revised electoral code and updated electoral roll.

Conde announced Monday that a working group was working on implementing the agreement, but said in a statement that "certain difficulties have prevented us from carrying out these actions on the expected date."

He tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) with taking measures "to organise local elections as soon as possible", and requested a timeline of action from the institution, according to the statement.

Conde became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010, taking over a nation run by a succession of strongmen following independence from France.

Political distrust is high in Guinea, a mineral-rich but deeply poor country where ethnic tensions often turn deadly around election time.

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