Escalation of repression in Guinea. Three civilians were killed on Thursday during clashes between residents and security forces in Labé, in the center of the country. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), which leads the protest movement started since mid-October 2019, had not called for mobilization today. But tensions remained strong in Labé, one of the centers of the protest. “The city is in turmoil since this morning, the populations have rebelled,” said the mayor, Mamadou Aliou Laly Diallo, contacted by phone by AFP. “There are two gunshot deaths,” he added, estimating at least a dozen wounded and blaming the security forces.
No comments were obtained from the latter. The same source said a third person was then shot dead. The security forces shot an ambulance and killed its driver who was leaving for a city mosque to transport the body of one of the two previous victims, said Mamadou Aliou Laly Diallo. Human rights organizations, for their part, denounce excessive use of force on their part and almost total impunity.
Read also Guinea: repression increases against protesters
A worrying situation
The victims of this Thursday are therefore added to the twenty dead recorded since the start of the mobilization. The opposition for its part proclaims that the movement is peaceful. But there have been clashes on several occasions. Tensions rose a notch in mid-January with the collective’s call for “unlimited” mobilization. Protesters have since attacked gendarmeries, police stations and public buildings. Rampage scenes have been reported, and officials evacuated to escape the violence. The situation is being followed closely by the international community, worried about developments as Guinea is used to protests and violent repressions. Last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was “particularly concerned about the situation in Guinea”.
For the American Tibor Nagy, the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, “there have been very disturbing events, with violence, violent demonstrations and violent repression. Our ambassador is very involved and, in Washington, we are also watching this very closely, ”he said on RFI. Early January, regional partners, notably the Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have also sounded the alarm over the crisis, calling on respect for the fundamental rights of demonstrators and better management of demonstrations by the police.
Read also The so worrying Guinean political crisis
Read also Cellou Dalein Diallo: “Barring the electoral masquerade”
Controversial elections to come
Calls to which Alpha Condé has so far not responded. Historical opponent who experienced exile and prison, he was the first democratically elected president in 2010, re-elected in 2015. His advent marked the establishment of a civilian government after decades of authoritarian and military regimes. But its image is deteriorating from week to week, since, in mid-October, a collective of opposition parties, unions and members of civil society repeatedly brought down tens or hundreds of thousands of people in the street. He claims that the president gives up the project which is allotted to him to represent itself at the end of 2020 whereas the Constitution limits to two the number of presidential mandates.
But the 81-year-old head of state has been careful not to pronounce himself clearly for months. According to government sources cited by AFP, the constitutional referendum – which will ask Guineas to choose whether or not the Constitution should be changed – could be coupled with the legislative elections scheduled for February 16. An electoral calendar that risks increasing tensions, already very intense.