The United States on Friday raised concern over the Guinea government’s plans to hold legislative elections and a constitutional referendum next month, reported France 24.
“We question whether the process will be free, fair and transparent and accurately reflect the will of all eligible voters,” the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter.
Pompeo made an appeal to the authorities to allow for peaceful demonstrations by the public while requesting the opposition to refrain from violence. At least 28 civilians and one security officer were killed in protests in the capital Conakry and other cities since October.
“We urge all parties to engage in nonviolent civil dialogue,” Pompeo tweeted.
The development follows an announcement made by Guinea President Alpha Conde to conduct a constitutional referendum on March 1 despite months of massive protests.
The 81-year-old Conde became first-ever elected president of Guinea in 2010 on promises to make the country corruption-free. He was re-elected in 2015. But Conde has been accused of authoritarianism and has questioned the relevance of restricting the presidency to two terms.
While a draft constitution maintains the two-term limit, the opposition fears that Conde could use the constitutional referendum to reset the limit and allow himself two more mandates. The president has neither confirmed nor denied that claim.
In related news, Guinea’s main opposition parties on Wednesday said they would boycott the constitution referendum.
“Nothing that Alpha Conde does would surprise us. It is up to us to do as we have promised,” said one leader of opposition Liberal Bloc. “To deny him the referendum on the new constitution and deny Alpha Conde a third term.”
The Union of Democratic Forces called the coupling of the legislative election and the referendum together “political banditry.”
“We are going to urge our voters not to touch a single ballot sheet in the referendum and that we only vote in the legislative elections,” UFD president Mamadou Bah Baadiko told AFP.