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Violence mars Guinea referendum vote

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)
March 23, 2020 - 11:22 AM

CONAKRY, Guinea - Violence marred the weekend's vote in Guinea, with at least four killed in violence between security forces and demonstrators opposed to a referendum that could see the president try to stay in power beyond his mandate.

Opposition parties said Monday at least 10 people were killed during Sunday’s vote, while the government put the figure at four and said only two of them were directly caused by the violence.

Some 5 million voters were registered to vote in a double ballot Sunday despite fears of COVID-19. They went to the polls to choose 14 National Assembly members and to vote on a referendum that would keep presidencies to a two-term limit and increase terms from five years to seven.

President Alpha Conde, whose second and currently final term ends in December, has implied that his previous terms served will not count if the referendum goes through.

A coalition of opposition and civil society groups, the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution, has been demonstrating against the referendum, and called for further protests this week.

"The people of Guinea rose up courageously to say no,” said FNDC spokesman Ibrahima Diallo.

Guinea has at least two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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