Guinea’s ruling party on Monday confirmed months of speculation that 82-year-old President Alpha Conde will seek a third term in office, a possibility that had already sparked deadly mass protests.
The news came after Conde pushed through a constitutional reform in March that critics had argued was meant to allow him to run for office again in the October 18 election.
“President Alpha Conde will indeed be our candidate in the presidential election,” said the statement from the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), read out on the country’s television.
The party had formally nominated him to run again back in August, but Conde had made no formal response. He instead told delegates that the RPG must pledge to help women, the young and the poor before he would agree to stand for election.
Conde was elected president in 2010 and again in 2015. Under Guinea’s constitution, presidents may only serve two terms. But according to analysts, the new constitution allows the president could reset the presidential term counter and enable him to run a third time.
Opposition figures were at the forefront of a protest movement against the constitutional referendum in March and unsuccessfully tried to organise a boycott.
Mass protests have been held for nearly a year to oppose the possibility of Conde seeking a third mandate. Security forces in the former French colony repeatedly cracked down on the protests, killing several dozen civilians.
Conde is a former opposition figure who was jailed under previous regimes in Guinea, a country rich in minerals but plagued by entrenched poverty and a history of instability.
Hopes of the new political era were raised when Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010, but critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian with time.