US urges Guinea leader on democracy amid talk of new term

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The United States on Friday encouraged Guinea’s visiting president to respect regular transitions of power as the leader flirts with ending term limits to allow him to remain in office.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Guinea’s 2020 elections, which have already sparked tensions in the west African country, as he met in Washington with President Alpha Conde.

Pompeo “conveyed the United States’ strong support for regular, democratic transitions of power, which yield more accountability, stronger institutions, and less corruption,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

She added that US businesses were seeking a climate that limited corruption.

Conde, 81, was a longtime opposition figure who became the first-ever elected president of Guinea in 2010 with promises to fight corruption. He was re-elected in 2015.

But Conde has since questioned the relevance of a two-term restriction. He has come under fire for security forces’ use of deadly force against protesters, who have raised concern that Conde will amend the constitution.

The United States also signed with Guinea an open-skies agreement that will allow unrestricted flights between the countries.

While US airlines operate few direct flights to Africa, the State Department said the accord showed Washington’s commitment to liberalizing the international aviation market.

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