Guinea police clashes with protesters days before referendum

Guinea police with opposition protesters clashed and the army was alerted on Thursday, 3 days before a tense referendum on President Alpha Conde’s contested reforms.

Guinea has seen months of protests over the constitutional reforms which critics fear will cause Conde, 81, to be in power for a third term in the West Africa country.

Youths made barricades, threw rocks and burned tyres confronting Police who responded with tear gas in the opposition stronghold of Wanindara in the suburbs of the capital Conakry, witnesses revealed.

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“Alpha, you have caused division in Guineans, time to go, thank you, enough,” a group of female protesters chanted, dressed in the red of the opposition, and assembled in another Conakry area.

Same protest clashes took place in Pita, 350 km (217 miles) north of Conakry, residents told AFP through telephone.

Electoral material set to be used for Sunday’s poll was destroyed on Wednesday, in the neighbouring Timbi-Madina an official of the sub-prefecture said.

The poll is highly divisive. The constitutional referendum is a Trojan horse that would permit Conde to run for president again critics said overcoming current two-term limits.

Both the 2010 constitution and the new draft constitution reduce presidential mandates to two terms.

Critics however say a new constitution would mean a new republic, in effect resetting the presidential term counter to zero permitting Conde to contest again.

Conde, revealed that the reforms will be used to overhaul the constitution bringing more progressive rights, especially of women.

Since mid-October, people have flooded the streets to protest against the reforms.

About 30 protesters have lost their life in the protest to date, and also one gendarme.

Jailed under former hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

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