The Guinean government has announced a ban on political demonstrations across the country until further notice, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
But the opposition has denounced the move, saying the government is using the pandemic to silence opponents of President Alpha Condé.
The ban comes as Alpha Condé’s main opponent and leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea party in the recently held presidential election, Cellou Dalein Diallo called for a protest to be held on Wednesday over what he terms an electoral “hold up” and arrest of several of its leaders after the election.
In a year of tensions caused by the candidacy of President Condé for a third term, authorities have repeatedly banned opposition rallies. They have argued the risk of disorder or the coronavirus.
These bans had previously been issued on an ad hoc basis.
The government spokesman called it an “exceptional measure justified by the state of emergency” officially introduced to combat the pandemic. He said the “temporary” measure will be lifted when “significant progress” has been made against the coronavirus.
Condé, 82, was declared winner by the Constitutional Court. Diallo, head of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea party, claims to be the winner and denounces fraud.
In the past, human Rights Watch has expressed suspicion that “the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to repress dissent and violate human rights.”