CENI – 8 Members Send Letter Accusing Camara of Operating a “CENI within a CENI” and Making Decisions Unilaterally
The following article by Reuters gives you a rather different impression of what is going on in Guinea concerning preparations for legislative elections. Reuters is notorious for its propaganda supporting Alpha Conde, especially during the 2010 presidential election. Now, its less than complete reporting on the latest news from the CENI, Guinea’s electoral commission, requires Guinea Oye! to point out a “few omissions.”
Yesterday, eight members of the CENI sent a letter to its president, Lounceny Camara, accusing him of making unilateral decisions and generally keeping members in the dark concerning the Commission’s operations. They write that Conde’s administration is placing undue pressure on the CENI preventing them from operating independently. They accuse Camara of operating “a CENI within a CENI” and using them as nothing but window dressing. Regarding Camara’s announcement yesterday that the electoral rolls revision would be postponed beyond the original October 5 date, the letter to the CENI president states that he knew, when he established that date, he would not have the pertinent materials needed for the revision by that time. The CENI members closed the letter by saying they will resign if Camara continues on his “unilateral” binge.
In addition, to its failure to report on the dissension within the CENI, Reuters tries to spin its propaganda to sway things in Conde’s favor.
-Starting with the title of the article, what happened on September 27 was not a “riot.” This march was announced 10 days in advance, billed as a peaceful march, which it was, until the security forces decided to kill and severely injure unarmed citizens.
-Postponement of the revision of the electoral rolls cannot, even remotely, be misconstrued as “potentially paving the way for talks with the opposition after deadly riots over preparations for an upcoming legislative poll.”
If you are an observer of Guinean politics, it might be helpful to look at an analogous situation – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Conde administration, like the Israelis, has nothing to gain by sitting down with the opposition because, when it does, it loses something. As it stands Conde controls a government with a huge cabinet, a 40-50,000 soldier military over which he has ultimate control serving as the the Defense Minister in addition to his presidential duties, and he is the final deal maker on mining and other lucrative contracts where it is common for companies to “sweeten” the deal.
The Guinean opposition, like the Palestinians, holds no political sway over the government and finds itself under siege by Guinea’s state security services, including its huge military. As for funds to promote its cause, there is only what they garner through the individual opposition parties.
Like the Israelis, Conde’s government must occasionally placate the international community, by offering to dialogue with the opposition. But, these are offers carefully crafted to fail. For example, on September 27 the government killed at least four unarmed demonstrators, seriously injured dozens and jailed over 350. Five days later at the anniversary of Guinea’s independence celebration, Conde invites the opposition to dialogue. As he made this offer, his hands were still dripping with blood and he knew this would be a deal breaker for the opposition.
Over time, as has happened to Israel, Conde becomes an outcast for his violence, duplicity, and ever-present ethnic hatred. Yet, as long as he has tight control of the huge Guinean military, he can remain where he is for a long time. That is, until Guineans decide otherwise.
Guinea’s government said it has delayed a plan to revise the country’s voter lists, potentially paving the way for talks with the opposition after deadly riots over preparations for an upcoming legislative poll.
The move, which the government blamed on delays in shipments of needed materials, calls into question whether the West African state will be able to hold the elections before the end of this year as donor nations have urged.
“Due to delays in receiving materials from South Africa needed to revise the voter lists, the start of the voter list revision process initially set to begin October 5 has been moved to a new date to be decided by the Electoral Commission president,” the commission announced on state television late on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
The opposition welcomed the announcement as a possible concession aimed at opening up talks after a rift over election preparations triggered deadly street riots.
At least three people were killed and hundreds arrested in clashes with security forces in the seaside capital Conakry last week after the opposition called supporters into the streets to oppose the organisation of “a mock poll.”
Guinea’s opposition figures have accused President Alpha Conde, elected by a narrow margin late last year, of failing to consult them about the preparations for the election, and said he may be seeking to tamper with voter lists to ensure his party wins a majority in the legislature.
“This is a reversal that we take note of, but we are still waiting for our demands to be met, particularly the release of supporters arrested last week and the end to abuses. From there we can start talks,” opposition spokesman Mouctar Diallo told Reuters on Wednesday.
The electoral commission has proposed holding the election December 29, but the government has yet to ratify the date and the opposition has rejected it. Following the riots Conde said he was renewing an offer to hold talks.
The European Union has said it will only resume full cooperation with the West African state after the polls, potentially unblocking aid worth millions of dollars for an impoverished country with crumbling infrastructure.
Guinea’s presidential elections last year ended nearly two years of chaotic military junta rule and were meant to close the book on decades of brutal authoritarian leadership.
The West African state is the world’s top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite and its iron ore riches have drawn billions of dollars in planned new investment from companies like Rio Tinto and Vale.