We the under-listed West African Civil Society Organisations have been following with keen interest and are seriously disturbed by the ongoing political situation in Republic of Guinea, where a Constitutional Referendum was fraudulently initiated by the ruling party as part of autocratic efforts to undemocratically elongate the tenure of the incumbent President Alpha Conde..
While we are surprised that despite initial rejection and public outcry against the so-called “Referendum” by the opposition and particularly the majority of citizens, we find it worrisome that such a process was partialized without an iota of respect for the citizens’ democratic rights. More worrisome is the fact that Alpha Conde’s administration still went ahead to conduct a sham referendum and parliamentary elections despite risks to public health, and recent recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on social distancing to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The lethal and infectious nature of the novel Corona Virus Pandemic is good enough reason for any right-thinking government who cares about the lives and wellbeing of its citizens to hold off on any elections until the curve of the Pandemic can be flattened. The republic of Guinea had recorded at least 2 confirmed cases of COVID 19 before the 22nd of March and now the country has over 163 cases. It is needless to say the novel coronavirus has affected Citizen Participation as many would have been afraid to get in contact with infected persons.
Weak health infrastructure that was heavily burdened during the Ebola crisis, shows the extent to which Guinea is unprepared for a mass disease outbreak on the scale at which we are witnessing. Instead of focusing all efforts to reduce the outbreak of COVID-19, we are seeing a gross disregard for the lives and welfare of citizens. We on this note condemn in totality the administration’s recklessness in neglecting citizens’ democratic rights and global concern for public health, while exposing its citizens to public gatherings primarily for selfish political gain; even when other nations have publicly extended elections in line with the global recommendations against COVID-19 pandemic.
We are also worried by the continued violence that the controversial proposal to change the constitution has spurred. Mass demonstrations against the proposal recorded the killing of 70 persons at the least and post electoral violence in the Southern region (Nzerekore). The day of the vote was also marred by violence with at least ten persons killed in clashes with security forces. Scores of polling stations were ransacked, and vandalised and many public and private properties were burnt and destroyed across the country. Several members of the opposition have been arrested for public order related offences despite the ongoing pandemic.
There is growing evidence of the lack of fairness and deliberate non-inclusiveness that reportedly dominated the Referendum and parliamentary elections process, constituting the major concerns earlier raised by international observers. We are at the most appalled by the actions of the purported “International Mission of African Civil Society Observers” who have refused to call the process for what it is: non-inclusive, non-consensual, fraudulent, violent, not free, fair or credible. We observed such malicious political move for tenure elongation as dictatorial and grossly monumental sabotage to the democratic gains in West African political history and unwelcomed development in the evolving inclusive political institution across the region.
While we articulate the concerns of all well-meaning West Africans against unscrupulous tenure elongation and sit-tight syndrome in the region, we reiterate our position that effort to maintain such would be unsupported, discouraged and opposed by regional Civil Society groups.
We, therefore, call on the authority to discard the newly enacted constitution and organise fresh polls and one that allow for free, fair and equal participation for all citizens. We call for fresh polls that reflects the aspiration and expectation of the people of Guinea and West Africa.
We also call on the administration to shun all undemocratic sit-tight syndromes with propensity to alter legal process and backpedal emerging democratic dividend in West Africa region.
We further call all well-meaning citizens, administrations, civil society groups and the media to discourage sit-tight effort in its entirety in West African and beyond.
- Idayat Hassan – Centre for Democracy and
- Auwal Musa Rafsanjani – Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
- Alioune Tine – Afrikajom Centre
- Fodé Sanikayi Kouyaté – Association des Blogeurs de Guinée
- Jibrin Ibrahim – Centre pour la Démocratie et le Développent (CDD)
- Mme Mama Koite Doumbia – Represente des Etats d’Afrique au fond de Victimes de la CPI.
- David Dosseh – Front Citoyen Togo Debout