Guinea's opposition says it will boycott February elections

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CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's opposition parties said Wednesday they will not participate in legislative elections in February and will press to have them delayed if the president does not withdraw a bid to seek another term.

The opposition's declaration comes after demonstrations last year by tens of thousands of people urging President Alpha Conde’s not to try to change the constitution so that he can run for a third term as president. At least nine people were killed in one of the October protests.

At least five parties said they will not participate in the Feb. 16 vote and called for new demonstrations on Jan. 13 to oppose the legislative elections and to renew the demand that Conde withdraw his proposed changes to the constitution.

“Not only will we not participate in this election, but we will oppose by all legal means the holding of this election, which is only a farce,” said Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, spokesman for one of the main opposition parties, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea.

"We cannot go to an election that is rigged with an electoral commission president whose acts are dictated by President Alpha Conde,” said another opposition leader, Sidya Toure of the Union of Republican Forces.

Presidential adviser Souleymane Keita said despite the declarations by the opposition, the vote will be held.

"If the opposition does not participate in this election, they will suffer the consequences,” he said. “We will go to the elections on Feb. 16, with or without the opposition.”

Conde's mandate ends in December 2020 but he seeks a referendum to allow him to stand for a third term in the West African nation of some 12 million people. The 81-year-old Condé was elected to a five-year term in 2010 in the country's first democratic transition of power since independence from France in 1958. He was re-elected in 2015.

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