CONAKRY (Reuters) - Several thousand opponents of Guinea’s President Alpha Conde protested in the capital Conakry on Wednesday against election delays and insecurity, as political tensions escalate.
Conde’s election win in 2010 ended two years of violent military rule but his opponents say he has cracked down on dissent - some protests have been banned - and fear he might try to change the constitution to seek a third term in 2020.
Conde has declined to comment on whether he wants to do so.
“We demand respect for the law and more security and justice for our fellow citizens,” Conde’s main political rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, told reporters as he rallied demonstrators in Conakry’s Cosa neighbourhood, an opposition stronghold.
Conde and Diallo signed an agreement last October to organise mayoral elections by February but they have yet to be held. In a statement on Tuesday, Conde urged Guinea’s political class to work together to implement the stalled accord.
Many Guineans are also angry that they have not benefited from the country’s mineral wealth, with constant power cuts, few jobs and low public sector salaries being top complaints.
An Ebola epidemic from 2014 saw economic growth grind to a halt, but a rebound since it ended two years later has heaped pressure on the government to deliver tangible benefits.
Guinea has about a third of the world’s reserves of the aluminium ore bauxite but ranks 183 out of 188 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index.
In April, several days of rioting in the main bauxite mining hub over pollution and power cuts killed one person and injured several others. Two months earlier, five people were killed in protests sparked by a teacher’s strike.
“Guinean teachers are the worst paid in the region,” said Elie Kamano, a reggae artist at the demonstration, lamenting Guinea’s various economic woes. “There are fathers whose salaries aren’t enough to cover the needs of their household.”
Additional reporting by Souleymane Camara; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Tim Cocks and Louise Ireland