Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Guinea’s capital Conakry on Wednesday to demand the holding of local elections which have not taken place since 2005.
Led by the country’s opposition, the protesters condemned the high cost of living and corruption under the government of president Alpha Conde.
They also called out President Conde, following suspicions that he might want to amend Guinea’s current constitution, that would allow him to run for a third term.
“The presence of all these people says a lot; meaning that we are all fed up of this government. They should support the opposition in its legitimate quest to organise local elections, to conduct investigations to bring an end to impunity, and identify all those behind crimes committed during the peaceful demonstrations by the opposition,” said opposition leader,” Cellou Diallo.
The protests came following the arrest of reggae artist and activist Elie Kamano on July 17. He was arrested for going on a banned protest and fellow reggae artist, Takana Zion who was planning an anti-government festival.
Guinea is no stranger to strikes.
Last year, violence flared during a four-day general strike over wages and pensions for workers, that saw the closure of banks, shops, markets and halting most public transport.
Guinea is Africa’s largest producer of bauxite — the raw material for aluminium and also has massive deposits of iron ore and other minerals, but lack of electricity means mining projects have long been forced to rely on costly generators.
Despite vast mineral wealth, most Guineans live in poverty and president Conde has been blamed for a stagnant economy.
Ibrahim Barry an economist decries the sate of affairs in the country.
“Everyone complains about the state of the roads, we have a problem with our education system, with empty classes, let’s not even talk about healthcare, you can see the state of the infrastructure.”
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the past Ebola health crisis and a slump in metals prices have hit investment affecting Guinea’s economic growth.
The government however says the country’s economy is on track to grow by an average of 6.3 percent annually from 2016-2020, driven by a recovery in the mining sector after the Ebola epidemic.