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Guinea’s Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for US Policy

June 10, 2010

Guinea’s Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy

Alexis Arieff

Analyst in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service.
101 Independence Avenue, SE. Washington, DC. 20540 USA
Abstract

    A “government of national unity” was formed in Guinea on January 15, 2010, a year after a military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took power in a coup d’état. While the CNDD has not been dissolved, it has agreed to share power with civilian opposition groups in the lead-up to presidential elections, scheduled for June 27, 2010. Defense Minister Sekouba Konate has assumed executive power as interim president, while opposition spokesman Jean-Marie Doré was named prime minister.
    The formation of a unity government followed six weeks of political uncertainty after CNDD President Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in December 2009 by a member of his personal guard and evacuated for medical treatment. The appointment of the unity government has temporarily stemmed international concerns over political instability in Guinea and its potential spillover into fragile neighboring countries, such as Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. However, concerns remain over the political will to hold elections, impunity and disorder among the security forces, and the potential for “spoilers” to disrupt Guinea’s long-awaited transition to civilian rule.
    The United States, which had been highly critical of Dadis Camara’s erratic leadership, has expressed support for Guinea’s transitional government. At the same time, certain restrictions on U.S. bilateral assistance and targeted travel restrictions against CNDD members and others remain in place. As electoral preparations advance, a number of issues will confront U.S. policy. These include U.S. relations with the Guinean government; the status of U.S. assistance and travel restrictions on CNDD members; the monitoring of progress toward elections; U.S. policy toward a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of alleged CNDD human rights abuses; and potential U.S. support for security sector reform in Guinea.
    The 111th Congress continues to monitor events in Guinea and the potential for regional destabilization. Recent legislation includes H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen), a bill condemning the violent suppression of legitimate political dissent and gross human rights abuses in the Republic of Guinea, introduced on January 13, 2010, and passed by the House on January 20, 2010; and S.Res. 345 (Boxer), a resolution deploring the rape and assault of women in Guinea and the killing of political protesters on September 28, 2009, introduced on November 9, 2009, and passed by the Senate on February 22, 2010. For further background on Guinea and issues for U.S. policy, see CRS Report R40703, Guinea’s 2008 Military Coup and Relations with the United States.

Contents

    * Background
    * The Ouagadougou Declaration
    * Congressional Interest
    * The Government of National Unity
    * U.S. and Other International Reactions
    * Issues for U.S. Policy
    * Bilateral Relations with the Transitional Government
    * Aid Restrictions
    * Travel Restrictions
    * Progress Toward Elections
    * Potential International Criminal Court Investigation
    * Security Sector Reform
    * Guinea’s Security Forces: Key Challenges
    * Potential Challenges
    * Outlook

Background

On December 23, 2008, a military junta calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power in Guinea following the death of longtime President Lansana Conté. A previously little-known army officer, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, was named president. The CNDD dissolved the constitution and legislature, appointed a civilian prime minister, and promised to hold presidential and legislative elections. However, elections were repeatedly postponed, while Dadis Camara’s erratic leadership sparked increasing civilian unrest and concerns that military fragmentation could lead to violence. On September 28, 2009, Guinean security forces opened fire on civilian demonstrators in Conakry who were protesting the CNDD and Dadis Camara’s implied intention to run for president, killing over 150 and injuring many more. The crackdown, which was accompanied by reports of widespread military abuses against civilians, sparked fierce international condemnation, including from the United States.
On December 3, 2009, Dadis Camara was shot and wounded in the head by a member of his presidential guard. He was evacuated to Morocco for medical treatment. On January 12, 2010, he was unexpectedly flown to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, whose president, Blaise Compaoré, had earlier been appointed the regional mediator in Guinea’s political crisis by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In Dadis Camara’s absence, the CNDD defense minister, Brig. Gen. Sekouba Konaté, informally assumed the position of acting head of state. However, uncertainty remained over Konaté’s authorities, the extent of Dadis Camara’s injuries, and the future leadership of the country. The power vacuum coincided with reports of rising ethnic tensions, the reported recruitment of militia groups by various factions, and instability within the CNDD and wider armed forces. Fears of imminent conflict caused some Guineans, human rights groups, and diplomats to call for a regional intervention force 2.

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