This West African country is marked by years of authoritarian rule and democratic abuses. Its outgoing president is claiming a third term, contrary to the Constitution.
More than 5.4 million voters are called to the polls on October 18, 2020 to elect the next President of the Republic in Guinea. The ballot takes place in a climate of tension after months of protest against the will of Alpha Condé, in power since 2010, to seek a new mandate. On this occasion, we invite you to learn more about this West African country marked by years of political violence.
1Guinea Conakry, a rich country
Guinea is very often called Guinea Conakry, from the name of its capital, to distinguish it from its Portuguese-speaking neighbor Guinea-Bissau and also from Equatorial Guinea, where this time we speak Spanish. Located in West Africa, this French-speaking country has more than 13 million inhabitants.
The Guinea has immense natural resources with significant reserves of bauxite, gold, diamonds, iron, manganese… Mines largely under-exploited and which do not benefit the population. More than one in two Guineans live below the poverty line, on less than one euro a day, according to the UN. Guinea was severely affected by the Ebola epidemic that struck it between 2014 and 2016.
2Decades of authoritarian rule
Guinea is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to become independent from France in 1958. Since then, the history of the young Republic has been marked by autocratic powers, demonstrations and brutal repressions that have gone unpunished. The most striking recent example is undoubtedly the massacre at the Conakry stadium. On September 28, 2009, more than 150 people were killed and women raped during a peaceful rally against the presidential candidacy of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, now in exile.
3Civil power with Alpha Condé
Alpha Condé, 82, has been at the head of Guinea since 2010. The former historic opponent, who has known exile and prison, is the first democratically elected president after years of military dictatorship. “The Professor” promises modernization and reconstruction. After two terms and a relatively positive assessment, Alpha Condé forgets the principle of democratic alternation. The outgoing president decides to modify the Constitution to remain in power. This widespread practice in Africa provokes strong tensions, large demonstrations and a violently repressed protest. Dozens of civilians have been killed, hundreds more injured and imprisoned.
4A duel between two candidates
The opposition, which had boycotted the constitutional referendum and the legislative elections, did not want to participate in an “electoral masquerade”. But in September 2020, the leader of the coalition, Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68, goes it alone and starts the race. The former Prime Minister and head of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) is the outgoing president’s main opponent. The two men have already faced each other in the last two elections and Cellou Dalein Diallo came out on top in the first round in 2010. Ten years later, the ballot looks like a duel even if ten other candidates are in the running. Among them, two women who had worked with Alpha Condé.
5Ethnicity in the countryside?
The 2020 presidential does not escape the tensions of the two previous ones, also tarnished by violence and disagreement. The ballot takes place after months of protest and a campaign marked by hate speech and ethnic divisions. The Malinkés recognize themselves mainly in the party of Condé, the Peuls in that of Diallo. The two groups represent well over half of the population. The community factor is undoubtedly important, but it is not decisive in this election. Questioned by AFP, Guineans in Conakry are worried about the conduct of the vote and even more about its aftermath.
The international community was alarmed by the remarks of outgoing President Alpha Condé who warned Malinke voters against the temptation to vote for another candidate from this community than himself.