The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on all candidates in Guinea’s 18 October presidential election to refrain from fuelling ethnic divisions for political reasons.
“Political leaders, especially candidates in Guinea’s upcoming presidential election, should refrain from invoking ethnic affiliations and using provocative language which could lead to violence, discrimination and other human rights violations,” the statement issued on Thursday, 8 October 2020, said.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, quoted in the statement, the call for ethnic affiliations, particularly of the Malinke and Peuhl ethnic groups, became increasingly widespread and divisive during the campaign.
“There are already serious signs of increased intolerance and clashes, especially among youth groups and media that amplify messages of hatred,” she noted.
On this basis, her colleague, Pramila Patten, urged policymakers to refrain from instrumentalising ethnicity or any other manipulations that could sow the seeds of division for political purposes.
“Such manipulations are extremely dangerous and must be stopped,” Patten said.
While reminding the government of its primary responsibility to protect its people from violence, regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation, Patten called on all parties to engage in dialogue to ensure a peaceful and transparent electoral process.
The two UN officials also called on political actors to avoid resorting to any form of sexual violence, which, in many contexts, remains a tool to intimidate and punish political opponents, their family members, and women who defend human rights in the context of political crises.