The United Nations has expressed alarm at ethnically charged hate speech rising in Guinea in the lead-up to the polls, warning the situation is extremely dangerous and may lead to violence, reported Al Jazeera.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and Pramila Patten, who is acting as UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said the increasingly pervasive and divisive appeals to ethnic affiliations in Guinea before the October 18 election.
They also urged the candidates to “refrain from using provocative language that may lead to violence, discrimination and other human rights violations”.
Guinea’s politics is mostly drawn along ethnic lines. President Alpha Conde is seeking a controversial third term in the upcoming election. The 82-year-old is largely backed by Malinke people, while his main opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party, is largely backed by Fulani people.
Both Bachelet and Patten pointed out that the candidates have made specific mention of the Malinke and Fulani ethnicities, and had suggested violence could follow the announcement of the results.
“Given the history of intercommunal violence in Guinea, I am deeply worried about such dangerous rhetoric by political leaders, which in some cases may amount to incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence,” Bachelet said.
She warned that there are already serious indications of rising intolerance and confrontation, including among youth groups, and media outlets amplifying hatred messages.
The two UN officials also demanded accountability for the reported use of excessive force by security forces during demonstrations over the past year.
Protests against Conde’s decision to seek another term have been severely repressed in the country of some 13 million people.
Last week, Amnesty International said at least 50 people were killed in the crackdown through July and criticized the government for failing to hold the security forces accountable.