Nearly 5 million Guineans were held at the polls on Sunday, March 22 for a double ballot bringing together the legislative and a disputed constitutional referendum. The ballot, contested by civil society and the opposition which called for a boycott, was maintained by the authorities.
In Guinea, the controversial double ballot started on the morning of March 22. President Alpha Condé voted late in the morning in Kaloum, in the city centre of the capital Conakry. Surrounded by the presidential guard, Alpha Condé walked from the presidential palace to the polling station. “I hope that everything will happen in peace and tranquillity and that the Guinean people, as in 1958, will show their maturity,” declared the head of state.
In Conakry, the vote went well overall in Kaloum, in the city centre, in Dixinn and in Taouya, explains our correspondent in Conakry. Attendance was low throughout the morning in the offices of the centre and the nearby suburbs. No one on the streets and no waiting files either.
On the other hand, violent clashes were reported in the upper suburbs between pro and anti-referendum. Tires were burned, barricades erected and shops set on fire in Sonfonia. Several polling stations were ransacked and election materials burned. A member of the FNDC (National Front for the Defence of the Constitution) indicates that his home was attacked this Sunday morning.
Clashes with the security forces
The army has been deployed; a dozen pick-ups loaded with soldiers in arms went up Le Prince Road, where clashes were reported between young people and the security forces, near Hamdallaye crossroads, at Cimenterie and Sonfonia. Each time, the scenario was the same: exchanges of stone throws against tear gas shots. In some areas, polling stations were ransacked and voters attacked by demonstrators who wanted to prevent them from going to vote.
Shots were heard in the Simbaya district, in the commune of Ratoma, as well as in Koloma district in particular, where only two polling stations opened on the planned isolation. In the offices visited, the police were often more present than the voters, except in the commune of Matoto where the crowds were higher.
But in Petit Simbaya, the road was strewn with debris from ballot boxes and charred ballots. Groups of young people harangued the police until the end of the afternoon.
Troubles inside the country
But there have also been incidents in the interior of the country, reported RFI correspondent Mouctar Bah. Election materials have been destroyed in some localities. The opposition to Alpha Condé had promised to do everything to prevent the holding of this poll and the referendum which could pave the way for a third term for Alpha Conde.
The day was very tense outside the capital. Nzérékoré, the main city in the south, experienced a very particular unrest with ransacked polling stations, charred vehicles, even inside the university, an ultra-secure place in addition to the movements in Bellevue, Nakoyakpala and Mohomou districts. Arrests were made in Kindia, the garrison town of Lower Guinea, in the midst of opponents of the new Constitution, who attacked polling stations.
Polling stations were also set on fire in Kolaboui in the west, while in Koundara in the north, the same scenario was observed in Hamdallaye and Sareboido near the Bissau-Guinean border where clashes started on Saturday the eve of the elections. In Télimélé, members of the polling stations were molested and chased away while in Pita, the day was transformed into a dead city day.
Finally, it should be noted that in Mamou, where the vote took place calmly, in few districts, at the time of the counting of the ballot boxes, individuals armed with clubs and sticks broke into peripheral polling stations, put in place diverted the security agents and seized all the electoral material.
Everything had started for the best, on Sunday morning, in the centre of Conakry, in the commune of Kaloum. The equipment was in place and a small line had formed in front of the hand washing kits, a coronavirus pandemic requires. Voters then entered the office to vote three times, that is to say twice for the legislative elections (single-member list and national list) and “yes” or no “for the referendum.
All this after checking that their names were on the final lists. This is essential because a few days before the vote, nearly 2.5 million names (or nearly a third of the voters) were withdrawn on the recommendation of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), lack of supporting documents recorded.
Amnesty International, the European Union and even the UN have expressed their concern, beforehand, about a ballot taking place without the international observers of the OIF, the ECOWAS and the African Union who withdrawn from the process, the postponement of the double ballot having not been used to reinstate the opposition. There had also been no social networks since Saturday night either. Facebook and Twitter are inaccessible without a VPN.
Many people killed.
At least 25 people had been killed and many wounded during the voting day and most of them had been shot dead by soldiers and security forces. Among them a 30 year old lady named Issa Yero Diallo living in Ansoumania Cimenterie.