When the whole world is worried about the Coronavirus, Guinea has another problem to worry about. They have been in violence since the current president, 82-year-old Alpha Conde, showed an interest in changing the constitution. Even though they want to change the law to ensure gender balance and enforce equity measures, the opposition believes that Alpha Conde’s main aim is to remove the barriers that may prevent him from vying again. His second and last term as president ends in December this year and he is not allowed to contend for another term.
The referendum was to take place on March 1, but it was later postponed to March 22 as a result of 2.5 million voters on the list that were suspicious. The opposition has been leading protests against the referendum. They even boycotted the referendum elections. However, they might have just handed Alpha Conde a clean win once the election results are out. About 7.7 million people were on the voters’ list, in a country with about 13 million people who can vote.
The referendum elections were marred by violent protests in the streets where the Government reports about seven deaths so far. However, the opposition, FNDC, gives a different number. They claim that there have been ten deaths.
Coronavirus in Guinea
So far, this West African Country has two cases of the Covid-19. Several polling stations made sure that voters washed their hands before and after voting. However, some polling stations had huge crowds, and few people had masks or any other protective gear. This places this country at a high risk of local transmission of the virus.
It is also essential for this country to learn from history. In 2015, Guinea was among the first West African countries to report the Ebola outbreak. As a matter of fact, H.E Alpha Conde was still in office back then. He imposed some of the measures we see with the Coronavirus; travel bans, banning gatherings, and locking borders. Unlike the Coronavirus, Ebola originated locally and spread fast to neighbouring villages, and other metropolitan centres. After a series of quarantines and support from WHO, they were able to contain the disease. They even came up with a vaccine that was very effective in fighting off Ebola.
Africa’s inadequate health systems, poor information dissemination, and political instability make it more vulnerable to these disasters. Guineans must remember where they have come from, and the problems they went through during the Ebola pandemic. They may not have reported several cases as many countries in Africa and all over the world, but they may be getting a second chance in doing better.
The opposition may plan more protests, and Alpha Conde doesn’t seem to be putting his guard down in pushing for his plan. This takes the resources, workforce and time out of dealing with the Covid-19, into dealing with the political crisis. Also, since Covid-19 could potentially lead to an economic crisis that could last for years, the political instability may make sure they never recover. Investors may have moved out once the political crisis started, and financial organizations and donor organizations may not adequately help this country if this goes on.