France's Macron blasts Guinea's Conde for power grab

PARIS, Nov 20 (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Guinea’s President Alpha Conde of changing the constitution solely to stay in power, a move that he said was serious for the future of Africa’s top bauxite producer.

Guinea’s top court earlier this month confirmed Conde’s victory in October’s election, rejecting accusations of fraud and handing him a third term his opponents say is unconstitutional.

“President Conde has had a career as an opponent which would have justified organising a good alternation on his own,” Macron said in an interview with weekly pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique. “And obviously he organised a referendum and a constitutional change just to be able to keep power.”

Conde’s first election victory in 2010 raised hopes for democratic progress in the former French colony after two years of military rule and nearly a quarter of a century under authoritarian President Lansana Conte, who died in 2008.

But Conde’s critics accuse him of cracking down on dissent and violently repressing protests - charges he has denied.

“That’s why I haven’t sent him a congratulatory letter yet. I think the situation is serious in Guinea, for its youth, for its democratic vitality and for its progress,” Macron said. (Reporting by John Irish; editing by Bate Felix)