Thousands of people took to the streets in Guinea on Thursday in the latest round of demonstrations against President Alpha Conde who is seeking a third term in office, reported Reuters.
The protesters are against the president’s decision to bring about a potential constitutional change that will enable him to contest the elections for the third time.
The peaceful protest was organized by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of politicians and activists, in a number of cities across the West African country. Many of the demonstrators wore red in honor of those killed in protests last week. The protest organizers said a million people took part in the march, while police put the number at 30,000.
“We will not allow it!” and “Down with dictatorship!,” the protesters chanted as they rallied in the capital.
The protests come after twelve FNDC leaders were sentenced to up to a year in prison on Tuesday for organizing previous rallies in which nine people were killed. Abdourahamane Sanoh, the coordinator of the FNDC, was sentenced to a 12-month jail term, while four other leaders were sentenced to six months. The police opened fire on protesters last week as they ransacked military posts and blocked roads.
“We want him (Conde) to free the jailed leaders before any negotiation happens. Then Alpha needs to say he will not be a candidate,” Algassimou Diallo, one of the protesters told Reuters.
Conde became the country’s first democratically-elected president in 2010. His current term expires in December 2020. Next year, he will complete two successive five-year terms, the maximum allowed by Guinea’s laws. But the 81-year-old is not ready to rule out running again and asked his government last month to look into drafting a new constitution.
The FNDC has called for a fresh demonstration next Wednesday.