Ahead of a demonstration organised by the Front National pour la Defence de la Constitution (FNDC), police officers in Guinea have arrested over a dozen leading members of the coalition that is leading a campaign against attempts to modify Guinea’s constitution to allow President Conde to seek a third term in office.
Six members of the coalition were arrested on October 12, 2019, while they were preparing to address a press conference. The arrested leaders included Abdourahamane Sanoh, a former Minister of State and national coordinator of FNDC, Abdoulaye Oumou Sowh, the Secretary-General of the Association of the Bloggers of Guinea, Sekou Koundon, Administrator of Balai Citoyen (Citizen’s Broom) and Ibrahima Diallo, Coordinator of Tournons la Page (Let’s Turn the Page), both pro-democracy civil society movements.
On October 13, seven other people, including Badara Koné, the Secretary-General of the youth of the Union des Forces Republicaines, which is a member organisation of the FNDC, were also arrested. They were detained at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police in Kenien, a suburb of the capital, Conakry.
The police insist that the planned march is illegal and accuse the arrested leaders of stirring up disorder and civil disobedience.
These arrests demonstrate a stern resolve by the authorities to silence all dissenting voices with regard to the planned constitutional changes. They are a gloomy prelude to a potentially brutal crackdown on people participating in the October 14 elections.
The MFWA, therefore, calls on the police in Guinea to release of all the detained civil society leaders, as their arrest is a violation of their right to assemble peacefully and to express dissenting opinions.
We further urge the authorities to ensure that security forces deployed to control the crowd do so with a human face and avoid using excessive force. We also advise the organisers of the protest to take all precautions against any excesses on the part of the protesters.