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Guinea - Politics

Guinea is a constitutional democratic republic in the early stages of a transition from decades of authoritarian rule. Guinea is a republic with a population of approximately 10 million. Guinea launched its democratic transition swearing in its first freely elected president in December 2010 followed by legislative elections on September 2013.

The elections came on the heels of one of the most brutal periods in Guinea, during which the army slaughtered people demonstrating for democracy. Against all odds, and although far from perfect, Guinea's first foray into the democratic process was marked by high levels of preparedness and transparency in West Africa, which has recently been besieged by political turmoil.

When former president Lansana Cont died in 2008 after 24 years in office, the military seized power and suspended the constitution. Led by Moussa Dadis Camara, the junta promised future elections and civilian rule. Nevertheless, Camara announced plans to run for president. The military junta, under the leadership of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, suspended the constitution and dismissed the National Assembly. In protest, unarmed civilians gathered in the capital city, Conakry, on Sept. 28, 2009. Camara's junta ordered soldiers to attack, and protesters were trapped in a soccer stadium. That day, more than 150 protesters were killed, 1,000 injured, and more than 100 raped by members of the military. The rampage of violence continued, sending shockwaves around the world. Camara left the country in December 2009 to seek medical treatment after being wounded in a failed assassination attempt, leading to an extended period of calm.

Camara's sudden departure led to the installation of a transition government on 15 January 2010, pursuant to the Ouagadougou Accord, which called for a return to civilian rule by mid-2010. The Accord was signed by Burkinabe President Blaise Campaore (mediator from the Economic Community of West African States), former interim president Konate, and Captain Dadis Camara, who was recuperating in Burkina Faso. In late January, Konate appointed opposition leader Jean Marie Dore prime minister. On 16 February 2010, Dore appointed a National Transitional Council (CNT) as the country's legislative body. The CNT, which had equal representation from civil society, political parties, and the former junta regime, promulgated a new constitution on 07 May 2010.

In June and November 2010 the country held two rounds of presidential elections which resulted in the election of longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde, the candidate of the Rally of the Guinean People Party (RPG). In December, Conde was inaugurated as the country's first democratically elected president since independence from France in 1958. While the elections were generally regarded as free and fair, the second round was accompanied by widespread violence.

The 21 August, 2015 agreement reached between Guineas ruling and opposition political parties cleared the way for Guinea to hold the first round of presidential elections on October 11. The Government of Guinea and the main opposition political parties demonstrated goodwill, flexibility, and a shared commitment to holding credible, inclusive, and peaceful elections.

The deal, reached after weeks of informal talks, allowed for representation in local communal councils to reflect results of the 2013 legislative election. As part of the agreement, the government pledged to give the opposition representation in 128 of Guinea's 343 districts. The agreement also addressed the oppositions concern about the integrity of voter registration lists. The government agreed to establish a technical committee attached to the National Independent Electoral Commission to review the lists. Finally, there was agreement to replace two recently deceased members of the commission with opposition members.

On 11 October 2015, the country held its second presidential elections, and incumbent President Alpha Conde won with 58 percent of the vote. The political campaign was more peaceful than the 2010 presidential and 2013 legislative elections, but a few deaths occurred during skirmishes between demonstrators and security forces. Despite tighter rules of engagement and a prohibition on the use of lethal force during street protests, elements of the security forces on occasion acted independently of civilian control. The constitution called for local elections within six months of the installation of the National Assembly; the latter occurred on January 13, 2013. Local elections were again delayed three times during the year and most recently rescheduled for 2017.

After four years General Nouhou Thiam and four other military personnel--who were in prison for their alleged connection with the 2011 assassination attempt on President Conde--were tried and released in March 2016, following a sentence of time served. According to human rights activists, that sentence does not exist in the countrys criminal justice system but was the only way for the government to avoid being prosecuted for abusive or arbitrary detention. The length of their detention exceeded the maximum sentence for their alleged crimes: General Thiam was facing charges carrying a two-month sentence, and charges against the four others carried six-month sentences.

Independent and opposition-owned media were active and generally expressed a wide variety of views.

Print media had limited reach due to the low literacy rate (41 percent) and the high cost of newspapers. Radio remained the most important source of information for the public, and numerous private stations broadcast throughout the country. FM radio call-in shows were popular and allowed citizens to express broad discontent with the government. An increase in online news websites reflected the growing demand for divergent views. Nevertheless, libels and allegations could result in government reprisals, including suspensions and fines. For example, after being accused of being an accessory to insult of the president of the republic, a journalist of private radio station Milo FM was sentenced on 22 June 2016 by the Court of First Instance of the prefecture of Kankan (Upper Guinea) to pay a fine of one million Guinean francs (GNF) ($112).

Guinea held local and municipal elections on February 4, 2018, following a decree issued 05 December 2017. The polls elected officials to lead the countrys 342 municipalities. The elections had been several times scheduled but postponed or replaced by special delegations whose mandates have been expressed; local elections were to have been held in 2010. On the basis of agreements between the government and the opposition, they were set without being held in 2013, in 2014 and in 2015. Failing schools, unemployment, electricity shortages and corruption allegations were all election issues in the West African country.

The last round of legislative elections was held in 2013 and regarded as free and fair. Municipal elections, originally scheduled for 2010, were generally considered free and fair, despite allegations of fraud. Protests erupted throughout the country following the release of the results, and opposition parties alleged the ruling party, the Guinean Peoples Assembly, conspired to commit voter fraud.

Despite tighter rules of engagement and a prohibition on the use of lethal force during street protests, elements of the security forces on occasion acted independently of civilian control. Human rights issues included use of excessive force against civilians by security forces; alleged torture by government security forces to extract confessions; arbitrary arrest by government security personnel; endemic corruption at all levels of government; frequent rape and violence against women and girls, which rarely led to prosecution.

Opposition parties and civil society groups in Guinea voiced outrage 10 January 2019 after Russia's ambassador suggested the constitution be changed to let President Alpha Conde stay in power. Russian envoy Alexander Bregadze put forward the idea at ceremonies attended by Conde to mark the New Year. In a speech that he made as dean of the diplomatic corps in Conakry, Bregadze heaped praise on the 80-year-old head of state, whose second and final five-year term expires next year. "You don't change horses in mid-stream," he said, according to the text of the speech released by Conde's office.

He suggested modifying the "principle of change," a reference to the term limits enshrined in the West African state's 2010 constitution. Conde, a long-time adversary of authoritarian ruler Lansana Conte, has been criticised for the use of deadly force to crush protests and repeatedly questioned the relevance of presidential term limits in Africa.

As part of the preparations for the 2019 legislative elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began a series of meetings with all the actors of the electoral process. On 21 March 2019, in a Conakry receptive, CENI President Amadou Salif Kebe and his fellow commissioners exchanged with the Republican Opposition led by the party of opposition leader UFDG - Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea. Aliou Cond, secretary general of the Ufdg, demanded the audit of this electoral file "since there had been enrollment of minors at the time. So we have an extrovert file. We have a file that has more than 50% of the Guinean population as voters, while it is known that the population of 0 to 18 years constitutes more than 60% of the Guinean population. It is therefore incongruous to say that the population aged 18 and over 18 is greater than the population aged 0 to 18".

Ome sources reported tha the 2019 National Assembly elections might take place as early as 03 February 2019, but there is no evident reporting of a decision to delay from this date, nor [as of mid-April 2019] when or whether the elections might be expected.

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