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Police in Guinea crack down on protest against constitutional change

Police in Guinea crack down on protest against constitutional change
Riot police gather near a main road blocked by protesters in Sonfonia District in Conakry, Guinea October 14, 2019, in this still image taken from video. Reuters TV/via REUTERS -
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By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY (Reuters) – Protesters burned tyres and threw stones at police in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Monday in the first of a series of planned demonstrations against a possible change to the constitution that could let President Alpha Conde seek a third term.

While the number of protesters in demonstrations scattered across the capital was low, the security services were out in force, breaking up makeshift barricades and making some arrests.

Conde’s second and final five-year term expires in 2020 but the 81-year-old leader has refused to rule out running again and asked his government last month to look into drafting a new constitution.

Two demonstrators were hit by gunfire from the security forces, according to opposition leader Cellou Diallo’s chief of staff, Nadia Nahman, and a resident called Alpha Balde.

Government official Souleymane Camara said the authorities could not immediately verify the report and were investigating.

Political protests, labour strikes and demonstrations against bauxite mining companies in the West African country often turn violent.

The security forces blocked the opposition leaders who had called for the demonstrations from leaving their homes on Monday morning and detained civil society leaders over the weekend.

Conde’s first election win in 2010 ended two years of military rule and raised hopes for democratic progress in Guinea, which was governed by President Lansana Conte for nearly a quarter of century until his death in 2008.

Conde’s opponents, however, say he has cracked down on dissent since coming to office after years as an opposition figurehead fighting against Conte’s authoritarian rule.

(Editing by Alessandra Prentice and David Clarke)

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