Deadly protests rock Guinea over controversial vote

At least four people were killed and several injured as President Alpha Conde defied international pressure and internal strife to hold a controversial referendum to revise the constitution.

Two people died in clashes in the capital Conakry as security forces moved in to disperse protesters attempting to disrupt the vote, the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection said in a statement. Nine officers were injured and several people were arrested, according to the statement.

A coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, known as the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, said that ten people were killed and several injured as members of the security unit in charge of the safety of the president opened fire on the demonstrators.

Conde called on Guineans to vote in a referendum Sunday that his opponents say is an attempt by the 82-year-old president to extend his time in power. Conde, who assumed office in 2010, is due to step down this year. The opposition has objected to a new constitution that would reset the clock. Presidential elections are due to be held later this year.

Guinea’s Electoral Commission said Sunday the polls were largely peaceful with only a few isolated incidents that didn’t impact the vote. “Some polling stations were burned, but they were replaced,” the vice-president of the commission, Bakary Mansare, told reporters.

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