According to the provisional results of a referendum conducted on Sunday 22nd March 2020, Guinea has voted for a change in the constitution which would limit presidential terms to two, but potentially enable Alpha Conde to govern for 12 more years.
On Friday, 27th March, 2020, the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Amadou Salifou Kebe, disclosed that about 92 percent of voters supported changing the constitution while 80 percent voted against it.
Kebe also added that the turnout for the voting exercise was 61 percent and the figures are provisional. Hence, the Constitutional Court has eight days to confirm the results.
Due to the controversy over the proposal to change the constitution, mass demonstrations have been conducted, during which at least 32 people have been killed since October 2019.
During the polls, so many voting stations across the country were ransacked and dozens killed. On the contrary, the authorities claim that only a few deaths occurred on the polling day, and that the voting took place in peace.
Meanwhile, the 82-year-old incumbent president, Conde, has suggested that terms served under the previous constitution would not count, however, the referendum does not specify whether the terms would count. Also, he has not denied that he might use the proposed changes to seek another term when his second and final term runs out this year under the current constitution.
The government argues that the constitution needs to be updated to usher in badly-needed social changes, especially for women. The reforms would include banning female genital mutilation and underage marriage, in addition to giving spouses equal rights in a divorce.
The need for these social changes cannot be over emphasized, however, it is important that all of this is done in the right way and for the right reasons. In updating the constitution to usher in social changes, there is hardly any need to make amendments to political office tenures. Policies can be made to address these issues, and decisions can be taken in favour of women without extending the term duration of political leaders.
While political mandates and promises serve a purpose, it is important that the citizens truly understand the implications of their political actions devoid of any form of manipulation. It is also essential that the incumbent leadership of Guinea seeks priority, integrity, good governance and the good of its people over any personal political interests.