US casts doubt on credibility of Guinea referendum
The United States on Monday cast doubt on the credibility of Guinea’s recent constitutional referendum, which critics fear was a ploy to extend President Alpha Conde’s grip on power.
Guinea voted on March 22 on whether to adopt a new constitution, which the government has argued is needed to enshrine gender equality in the West African state, among other things.
But the proposal proved hugely controversial, provoking mass demonstrations in which at least 32 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally.
The political opposition has said that scores of people also died in unrest on polling day—when parliamentary elections were also held—although the government has said that only a few deaths occurred.
Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission said last week that 91.59 percent of ballots were in favour of adopting the new constitution, with only 8.41 percent against.
The turnout rate was about 61 percent, it added.
On Monday, the US embassy in Guinea’s capital Conakry released a statement saying it was “deeply concerned about the political divisions” in the country.
“Our own observations, and government reports of closed or ransacked polling stations, bring into question the credibility of the announced turnout figures and results,” the statement said.
The United States is the latest country to cast doubt on the credibility of the poll. France, the former colonial power, as well as the European Union have released similar statements.
The new Guinean constitution would limit presidential terms to two but extend the length of each term to six years.
The opposition fears the changes would also reset presidential terms to zero, potentially enabling Conde, 82, to govern for another 12 years.
Conde has not denied that he might use the proposed changes to seek another term when his second and final runs out this year under the current constitution.