Anti-Conde movement sets protests in Guinea for late September
A movement opposing Guinean President Alpha Conde's controversial bid for a third term in elections next month announced Wednesday that it would stage a new round of protests from late September.
"Our citizens' movement calls on the population of Conakry and the surrounding area to join a series of peaceful marches, starting on Tuesday September 29, 2020, to demand Mr. Alpha Conde's departure," said one of its leaders, Abdourahmane Sanoh.
"The people of Guinea are urged to mobilise massively, in the greatest civic responsibility... to block" Conde, he said.
He described the 82-year-old president as a "dictator... whose sole ambition today is to stay in power for the rest of his life."
Deadly clashes erupted in the West African state last October, claiming several dozen lives, over Conde's plans.
He is contesting the October 18 polls despite accusations of sidestepping limits on presidential terms by pushing through changes to the constitution.
Guinea is one of Africa's most volatile countries, enjoying little stability between coups since independence from France in 1958.
Ban on public gatherings
Conde is a former opposition figure who was jailed under previous regimes.
He became the country's first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected for a second time in 2015.
But critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian, resorting to crackdowns to quell dissent and pushing through changes to the constitution, validated in a referendum, that he argues has reset the two-term counter to zero.
Sanoh, whose statement was issued in the name of an anti-Conde coalition called the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), said a third term would be "illegal and illegitimate".
Twelve candidates have been authorised to take part in the elections.
The announcement of the protests came just hours after Conde declared that anti-coronavirus measures imposed in March, which include restrictions on public gatherings, would be extended for another month.
Guinea has officially declared 10,111 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths.
The extended state of emergency bans gatherings of more than 100 people, making it likely the fresh demonstrations will be declared illegal.
Authorities have cited the ban as they have met protests in recent months with a ruthless crackdown.
Human rights defenders and the opposition have accused the authorities of using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to repress protests and political rallies ahead of the presidential election.
The ban has not prevented supporters of the government from holding rallies in recent days, however.
Meanwhile the leading UFDG opposition party held a successful convention to nominate its candidate, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, last week.