Guinea Presidential Election: October 2020 (due)


Members of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition that opposes to a constitutional change to allow Condé to run for a third term, at a funeral march following a violent crackdown on anti-government protests. Photo credit: VOA/Zakaria Camara (Public Domain)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Partly Free
Government Type
Presidential Republic
Population
11.9 million
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
Presidential Election
October 2020 (due)
Presidential Elections
October 2020 (due)
Local Elections
2023 (due)
PAST ELECTIONS
Legislative Elections
March 22, 2020
Local Elections
February 4, 2018
Presidential Election
October 11, 2015

Guinea is due to hold a presidential election in October 2020. Incumbent Alpha Condé will run for a third term, and for the third time, face off against opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Political Context

Elections in Guinea routinely see significant delays, ethnic tensions, and violence. The country has a history of coups. Historically, the security forces have used excessive force to quell protests. This presidential election is coming on the heels of long-delayed legislative elections that took place on March 22, 2020.

President Alpha Condé, a former opposition leader who came to power in 2010 following a transition from military to civilian rule, plans to seek a third term following his victory in a constitutional referendum that took place at the same time as the legislative elections. The result opens the door for Condé to run again (which Russia encouraged because Russian companies have mining interests in Guinea), the logic being that a new constitution means a new republic, which means a reset on term limits. The new constitution is controversial – opposition protests beginning in October 2019 over the proposed change left at least 31 people dead, and protests on voting day left at least 10 people dead.

Guinea’s two biggest political parties are the Condé’s Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) and the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), led by Cellou Dalein Diallo, who narrowly lost the presidency to Condé in 2010, considered to be Guinea’s first credible election. RPG and UFDG are bitter rivals. In the 2020 legislative elections, which the opposition boycotted, RPG won 79 of the 114 seats in the National Assembly.

The country has a total of 130 registered political parties, many of which are based on ethnicity (Guinea has over 20 ethnic groups) and personality rather than ideology.

Geopolitical Context

Although Guinea is one of the world’s poorest countries, it has mineral wealth. It is one of the world’s biggest producers of bauxite (a key ingredient in aluminum). Much of the bauxite is exported to China, which loaned Guinea $20 billion in exchange for bauxite concessions. Guinea also has iron, gold, diamonds, and oil.

During the Cold War, Guinea initially aligned with the Soviet Union following independence from France, but became site of geopolitical competition and vacillated between Moscow and the west. As Russia beefs up its political and military involvement in Africa, it has its eye on Guinea, supporting Condé’s bid to change the constitution. In  that vein, in several African countries, Russia has sent mercenaries along with “political technologists” to help incumbents rig elections in exchange for mining concessions.

Curated News and Analysis

Kabinet Fofana and Joschka Philipps, African Arguments (April 16, 2020): Guinea’s elections had a clear winner. But its contest for power isn’t over.

AFP (April 2, 2020: Guinean President Conde’s party rightfully won violent March elections: electoral commission

François Soudan, The Africa Report (February 21, 2020): Alpha Condé vs. the opposition: Unmasking the power struggle

The Economist (October 21, 2019): The Kremlin is encouraging Guinea’s president to ditch the constitution. The Guinean people aren’t thrilled.

Updated June 24, 2020
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