Guineans are called to the polls on Sunday for a ballot in which outgoing President Alpha Condé, 82, aspires to stay in power after pushing for constitutional reform allowing him to run for a third term, a decision that has sparked violent protests .
At least 50 people have been killed in the past year during protests against constitutional reform, Amnesty International reported, and unrest has plagued the election campaign in recent weeks.
Alpha Condé, in power since 2010, described the referendum last March on constitutional reform as free and democratic. He says he needs more time at the helm of the country to complete major mining and infrastructure projects.
We laid the groundwork for development, he told supporters on Friday during his final campaign rally, in a stadium in the capital, Conakry.
Guinea has made progress in the exploitation of its mineral resources and its gross domestic product has doubled since Condé took over the presidency. But many Guineans complain that they are not seeing the effects of this dynamic on the job market and that they are faced with still frequent power cuts.
As the country has been regularly rocked by political turmoil since gaining independence in 1958, activists fear Sunday's poll – along with the presidential election slated for this month in Côte d'Ivoire – marks a setback for democracy in a region whose leaders have been lauded in the past for their respect for term limits.
Eleven candidates are running against Alpha Condé, including the outgoing president's long-time rival, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, defeated by Condé in 2010 and 2015.
Many analysts expect Condé to win again, after the massive support seen in the referendum last March on constitutional reform, a vote boycotted by the opposition. No reliable opinion poll was available prior to the election.
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