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ECOWAS urges removal of 2.5 million voters from Guinea electoral roll


Experts from the West African bloc ECOWAS have urged Guinea to expunge some 2.5 million names from its electoral roll due to a lack of proper identification, according to a document seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The experts are in Guinea in part to clean up the roll, after international criticism of it pushed President Alpha Conde to postpone a contested referendum on changing the constitution last month.

The International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) said last month that the roll contained some 2.49 million problematic names, including duplicates and those of people who had died.

Around 7.7 million people were registered to vote in the West African state, according to its Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

The country has a total population of roughly 13 million.

The document from the ECOWAS team, which was sent to Guinea after the referendum was postponed, echoed previous concerns about the roll.

The team pointed to an “anomaly” in which the names of roughly 2.5 million voters with no supporting identification were included.

It added that it “strongly recommends” removing these names.

The team also said there were more than 38,000 potential duplicate names on the roll and recommended a re-examination.

Guineans have been staging large protests since mid-October over Conde’s plan to change the constitution, charging that is a ploy to keep Conde in power.

The former French colony’s current constitution mandates two five-year presidential terms. Under the new constitution, there would be two six-year terms.

But critics argue that a new constitution would reset the term counter to zero, allowing Conde, 82, to run again when his second term ends this year, a possibility the government has not denied.

Conde gave a televised address on February 28 to announce the vote’s postponement, after the OIF, EU, African Union and ECOWAS raised concerns about the electoral roll.

It is unclear when a new vote will take place.

The president initially promised a vote would take place two weeks from the date it was originally scheduled, March 1.

CENI president Amadou Salifou Kebe said on Tuesday, however, that no vote within that timeframe would be possible.

He announced on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he is in favour of an “immediate application” of the ECOWAS proposals.

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