1. Home
  2. Africa

In the news: Guineans vote in controversial referendum amid coronavirus outbreak

An opposition boycott and two cases of COVID-19 didn’t stop the vote, which could help Guinea’s president cling on to power.

Guinea President Alpha Condé
Guinea President Alpha Condé addressing the European Parliament in 2018. (© European Union 2018 - European Parliament)

A controversial constitutional referendum that could allow Guinea’s president to hold on to power went ahead on Sunday despite an opposition boycott and two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

At least 10 people were killed in clashes with security forces, according to an opposition umbrella group known as the FNDC, while voting equipment was vandalised by anti-government protesters.

President Alpha Condé says the constitutional changes will help the government introduce new social reforms. But opponents say they will reset presidential term limits, enabling the 82-year-old – in power since 2010 – to stand for a third term in office

The referendum – supposed to be held last month – was postponed after international observers raised concerns over nearly 2.5 million “problematic” names on the electoral register, including duplicates, deceased people, and those too young to vote.

Human Rights Watch said more than 30 people have been killed since widespread demonstrations against the new constitution began late last year.

Critics said Sunday’s vote should not have gone ahead as cases of COVID-19 rise across Africa.

“I have the impression our country is taking things lightly,” Amadou Oury Bah, a banker and politician, told AFP.

– Philip Kleinfeld

Share this article

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join