Guinea’s 82-Year-Old President, Alpha Conde, Seeks Controversial 3rd Term In Office

Alpha Condé, Guinea’s 82-year-old head of state, will this Sunday ask his country’s 5.4 million voters for a third term, opening what promises to be a tense, high-stakes electoral season for West Africa, with contests soon following in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Niger.

If he fails to clinch outright victory with more than 50% of the vote, the president will probably have to face off against his leading opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, in a run-off that on past form that will probably spark violent confrontation on the streets of Conakry, the crowded capital city, crammed into a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic.

Mr Condé’s accession to power in December 2010 was the first genuinely democratic handover in his country’s 52-year independent history – a saga of authoritarian and military rule pockmarked with episodes of severe repression and spectacular brutality, the most recent of which had been the 28 September 2009 massacre, when troops killed at least 160 opposition supporters, and raped 110 women, attending a rally at the national stadium.

He had himself served jail time for challenging General Lansana Conté, who had ruled from 1984 to his death in 2008, and he faced a huge task to gradually reform the security forces and construct a democratically accountable state with a basic respect for human rights and transparent public finances.