African leaders are facing an upsurge of citizen opposed to questionable re-election schemes, including tampering with the constitution, that leave countries in the hands of one or two families for decades.
The latest upsurge is in Guinea where the political opposition has accused the president, Alpha Conde, of staging a “constitutional coup” by attempting to rewrite the constitution and pursue a third term, once his second term ends in 2020.
Hundreds of thousands of Guineans turned out this month to oppose any third term for President Conde.
At a rally on Dec. 10, about one million people in a country of 13 million people filled the streets, opposition groups reported. Clashes with police left 20 dead and scores wounded. Bullet wounds suggest that the victims were shot at close range.
Leaders of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, a coalition group, have been arrested and charged with disrupting public order.
“We will continue the struggle until they are released,” said Oumar Sylla Fonike Mengue, acting spokesman for the coalition also known as the FNDC. “We will not negotiate as long as they are detained.”
Fode Oussou Fofana, vice president of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, speaking with the Agence France Press (AFP) news agency, said changing the constitution to stay in power amounted to high treason.
The 81-year-old Condé has been president since 2010, and came to office amid previous rounds of violence including a September 2009 stadium massacre that left 157 people dead.
Others said to be positioning themselves for re-election despite constitutional prohibitions are Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Countries without any constitutional term limits include Togo, Congo Brazzaville and Uganda, among others. In Gabon, an ailing President Ali Bongo just appointed his son as “coordinator of presidential affairs”, in an apparent bid to ensure his succession. In Cameroon, two high-ranking opposition members reported that their homes were set ablaze.
SOURCE: Global Information Network