Guinea’s highly-anticipated presidential election will take place on October 18, President Alpha Conde announced on national television on Tuesday. The move comes after the 82-year-old president pushed through a constitutional reform in March that critics argued was a ploy to allow him to run for office a third time.
The possibility of a third term has spurred mass protests, with dozens dying in a subsequent crackdown. Under Guinea’s constitution, presidents may only serve two terms. Conde was elected president in 2010 and again in 2015.
But according to analysts, the new constitution could reset the presidential term counter and potentially enable him to run a third time. Conde has yet to formally declare whether he will stand for election, however. His Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party picked him as its presidential nominee during a convention last week.
Conde told delegates that the RPG must pledge to help women, the young and the poor before he would agree to stand for election. In a statement on Tuesday, Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission confirmed the election date.
Guinea’s embattled opposition will be incensed should Conde put forward his name. Opposition figures were at the forefront of the protest movement against the constitutional referendum in March and tried to organise a boycott.
The poll went ahead despite protests, and the constitution was approved by more than 90 per cent of those voting, with a turnout of 61 per cent, according to the official results. Conde is a former opposition figure himself who was jailed under Guinea’s previous regimes. He became its first democratically elected leader in 2010 but critics say he has taken an increasingly authoritarian turn.