Guinea voters back change that could extend president’s rule


FILE— This is a Sept. 21, 2010 file photo of Guinea president Alpha Conde at the People’s Hall in Conakry, Guinea. The West African nation of Guinea is defying the coronavirus pandemic to hold a controversial referendum on Sunday March 22, 2020, that could allow the president to stay longer in power.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, FILE)

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CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea has voted to change its constitution, according to provisional results from a referendum that could see the West African country’s president remain in power for two more terms.

Nearly 92% of voters on March 22 supported the change, according to the head of Guinea’s electoral commission, Amadou Salifou Kebe, who gave the results late Friday.

The proposal would keep a two-term limit on presidencies, but increase the length of each term from five years to six. President Alpha Conde, whose second and final term ends in December, has implied that his previous terms served would not count, meaning the 82-year-old could remain in office for another 12 years.

A coalition of opposition and civil society groups, the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, demonstrated against the proposal and boycotted the referendum. Opposition parties said at least 10 people were killed in violence surrounding Sunday’s vote, while the government said 4 died.

Despite the boycott, violence and fears surrounding the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the turnout was 61%, according to Kebe. Guineans also voted for National Assembly seats.

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