GUINEA HOLDS CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM TODAY

RAVICHANDRAN A/L RAJAMANICKAM

KIGALI,( Rwanda), March 22 (Bernama) -- Voters in Guinea are going to the polls today (Sunday March 22) to elect members of parliament and vote on the constitutional referendum in an election boycotted by the opposition.

Anadolu Agency reported that the electoral campaign which started on March 15 ended on Friday.

About five million voters are registered for the vote, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The date of the legislative elections and the referendum was postponed twice -- initially from Feb. 16 to March 1, then to March 22. A total of 43 opposition political parties selected by the electoral commission are in the race.

However, the election has been boycotted by other opposition groups, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea and the Union of Republican Forces -- which oppose any amendments to the Guinean constitution. The amendment seeks to increase the president’s term to seven years from five.

Critics accuse President Alpha Conde of planning to use the constitutional referendum to extend his stay in power. Once approved, Conde’s previous terms served would not be considered. Conde, 82, whose second and final term ends in December, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

He has not clearly indicated his interests in running again, only insisting in media interviews that the decision lies in the hands of his party.

The constitutional amendments can be approved after more than 50 per cent of the votes cast are in favour.

Some civil society groups had called for the postponement of polls due to coronavirus fears, but  Amadou Damaro Camara, a spokesman for the ruling Rally of the Guinean People party, told reporters that the virus would not derail the voting.

Guinea has reported two cases of the virus, according to the National Agency for Health Security. 

-- BERNAMA