Guinea President Seeks Change to Constitution That May Extend Rule

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(Bloomberg) --

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde announced a plan on Thursday to change the constitution, a move his opponents say is an attempt to extend his rule after his second and final term ends next year.

While Guinea has a presidential term limit of two mandates, the opposition say the 81-year-old Conde will use a new constitution to “reset the clock” in order to seek another term. The proposed draft sets the terms at six years instead of five, renewable once. It doesn’t state whether he would be allowed to run.

The president of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court had already agreed to the proposal, Conde said in a televised address on state broadcaster Radio Télévision Guinéenne late on Thursday. A new constitution is needed to replace the 2010 version, which was drafted to end military ruler Dadis Camara’s short time in power and was never adopted by popular vote, he said.

“This proposal will be subject to a broad outreach campaign before its adoption by the sovereign people,” Conde said.

Initially hailed for ushering in change when he came to power in 2010, Conde has cracked down on the opposition in recent years. So far, 14 people have been killed in weekly protests against a third mandate, according to the opposition.

“Since the creation of our movement we have repeatedly explained to the Guinean people and the international community that Alpha Conde wants to seek a third mandate and that he intended to hold a referendum,” Sidya Toure, the president of opposition group Union of Republican Forces and a former prime minister, told Guineenews. “This confirms his intentions.”

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