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Guinean, Mr. Kaba, Comes to Washington Bearing Half-Truths, No Truths, and Innuendo

November 2, 2010

No one can deny that Dr. Kaba, originally from Guinea, is a charming man and has had a successful career as a university professor here in the US.  He came to Washington today to participate in a US Institute of Peace program on democracy in Guinea.  With the election just five days away, a panel discussion featuring Dr. Kaba and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Africa Affairs, William Fitzgerald, was timely.

After learning that Dr. Kaba has been living outside of Guinea for decades, it seemed odd that the Institute did not invite someone more intimately familiar with the current political situation.  Before long it became apparent  that Dr. Kaba was not there to discuss current Guinean politics, he was there to insultingly downplay ethnic conflict in Guinea and give the upcoming election a “kumbayah” sheen that does not exist. 

As evidence of ethnic harmony, Dr. Kaba told us that both campaigns have multi-ethnic support, but avoided altogether the heinous ethnic attack by Malinkes against Foulahs over the last week.  Yet, he found it necessary to raise the issue, in a characteristically vague fashion, of  “some problem about people getting poisoned.”  Of course, he is referring to the fake poisioning scheme hatched by Conde’s operatives to suggest that Diallo’s party had been responsible for poisoning food consumed by Conde supporters at a rally. While supporters did fall ill, doctors said the symptoms were not serious and that  the culprit was spoiled food, not poison.  Unfortunately, the lie was repeated and amplified throughout the country by Conde’s campaign in order to influence young Malinkes into taking revenge against Foulahs.  Before it was over at least three were killed, businesses were burned, homes were ransacked and money and other valuables were stolen.  This has led to a mass exodus of Foulahs from their towns and was done so by design.  The Conde campaign used ethnic violence to cause Foulah to flee their homes making it next to impossible for them to cast a ballot in their home voting district on election day.  Conde is so far down in the polls and with a first round showing of 18% compared to Diallo’s 44% is utterly desperate to “create” support even if peole are killed in the process. No ethnic violence, Dr. Kaba?

To further prove that there was no ethnic conflict in Guinea, Dr. Kaba stunned many Guineans in the audience when he said that there was no ethnic conflict back in the days of Guinea’s first president, Sekou Toure, either.  So, Guinea has been”kumbayahing” for over 50 years?  Of course, this is absurd and insulting  and the good professor knows so.  Dr. Kaba had already begun his career in the US when Sekou Toure announced to the nation in 1976 that Guinea had a “Foulah problem” and encouraged citizens to slit their throats.

Dr. Kaba’s political assessments were filled with holes you could drive a truck through while other comments about the candidates were pointed, yet made in a vague way.  He assessed the two presidential candidates as follows:  Diallo is young, educated in Guinean institutions, nice, polite, almost reverential.  But, Diallo’s problem is that those around him write nasty articles about Conde.  Isn’t this de rigeur during political elections throughout the world?  Here’s how Kaba describes Alpha Conde (who has a long list of anti-Foulah hate speech to his name):  Older, attended the Sorbonne and has a lot of equally well-educated advisors, such as Francois Fall and Lansana Kouyate (both of whom spoke openly and repeatedly about the  poisonoing  incident, fanned the flames when they both knew it was false and then did nothing to stop the carnage it caused).  For Dr. Kaba to raise Diallo campaign rhetoric as a problem, but to ignore the Conde campaign’s hate speech, subterfuge, electoral fraud, sponsorship of young people to commit violence against its opponents supporters, etc. simply defies logic.

Not to leave out Fitzgerald.  He told the audience that Dadis Camara got what he deserved, Konate has no interest in staying in office, and that Konate was not involved in the September 28, 2009, massacre by Guinean state security forces, even though he was the Defense minister at the time.  He also added that international observers for the election include the Carter Center, ECOWAS, African Union, and maybe the European Union, but they are concerned about violence and not sure if they will come to Guinea.  This tied in well to a question from a Guinean posed to Mr. Fitzgerald.  She described the security situation in many parts of Guinea as tenuous and is very concerned that state security forces cannot be counted on to protect the people, wondering if the use of UN peacekeepers or a regional force might be called in to help.  If the EU is concerned about violence in Guinea during the election what does this say about the ability of voters to get to the polls without fear or incident?

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