GUINEA UPDATE: 4-13-12
Conde’s Attempts to Criminalize the Opposition Leadership
The prosecutor for the trial court of Dixinn summoned four opposition leaders to appear before the court, next Wednesday, to answer questions about a March 17 attack at the headquarters of Alpha Conde’s party, RPG. You may recall that March 17 was the date scheduled for the opposition’s first mass rally at Colea stadium. The government prevented the opposition from meeting, even though all administrative requirements were fulfilled with the local authorities beforehand.
Unable to enter the stadium, opposition supporters and their party leaders headed back to their headquarters. On the way back, the entourage passed by the RPG headquarters. An aide to Lansana Kouyate said RPG members threw rocks at the car they were riding in. Opposition members say the RPG threw rocks first and the RPG says the opposition hurled the first stones. RPG claims injuries and damage to several cars. Alpha Conde promised that the perpetrators would be held to account.
The opposition leaders called to appear in court are: Lansana Kouyate, Sidya Toure, Mouctar Diallo and Faya Millimono.
Thus far, two opposition parties have responded to these legal proceedings. A spokesperson for Lansana Kouyate, suggests that rather than a complaint against opposition parties, the opposition should be lodging a complaint against the RPG for attacking the opposition entourage on March 17. Mouctar Diallo called the charges ridiculous.
Guinea Bissau Coup
If you blinked, you may have missed the overnight coup in Guinea Bissau. Since the first round in the presidential election, in which prime minister Carlos Gomes, Jr. and former president Kumba Yala, finished first and second respectively, there has been a dispute regarding the transparency of the election, Yala charges that the first round was fraudulent and demands that the results be nullified. Further, Yala states that he will not participate in the second round.
Given that the second round takes place within a few weeks, ECOWAS appointed Alpha Conde as its mediator in the conflict. Yala and four other opposition candidates, at a press conference, stated they did not want Conde to come to Guinea Bissau, suggesting he would not be able to fairly negotiate a resolution.
Last night, the Guinea Bissau military arrested interim president, Raimundo Pereira, as well as the prime minister, Carlos Gomes, Jr. Pereira has been released, while Gomes remains in custody. The military states that the reason for the coup is that it rejects any foreign involvement in Guinea Bissau and that it obtained proof of a secret deal between Pereira, Gomes, and the Angolan government to have Angolan troops enter the country. Perhaps, the appointment of Alpha Conde to mediate the conflict in Guinea Bissau, Yala’s strong rejection of his mediator services, and his close association with Angola, which is training ethnic militias for Guinea, all combined to make the coup even more imperative.
The election, originally scheduled for April 22 has just been postponed to April 29.
In a Bait and Switch, CENI Sneaks in a Census and Hires 4,200 Election Operators in a Less than Transparent Manner
Rather than gearing up to conduct a revision of Guinea’s electoral rolls, as previously announced, it appears that the electoral commission (CENI) will do a census instead. If so, this is a highly controversial turn of events for the opposition which has fought a census for a long time because it does not believe that government officials will do it in a transparent manner. A census has far-reaching impact beyond that of an election. Census data is used as a basis for many things: allocation of government services, distribution of funds, and figure significantly into international funding projects. One of the most politically sensitive aspects about doing a census in Guinea is that it will depict the percentages of each ethnic group in Guinea. Given that Alpha Conde has made discrimination against the Peul ethnic group a central part of government policy, the opposition is certain that the government will manipulate ethnic group numbers. The largest ethnic group in Guinea is Peul.
In another CENI sleight-of-hand, Louceny Camara announced that 4,200 people would be hired to input data associated with the revision of electoral rolls prior to legislative elections – presumably, the task is a census, now. CENI tested all applicants for the positions and the highest scorers were promised jobs. When the final list was confirmed, many top scorers were not on the list. Further many with much lower scores were on the list, as well as names claimed to be fictitious. On Wednesday, there was a demonstration in front of the CENI to challenge the selection process.
Opposition Plans March for April 19 – Gathering at September 28 Stadium
The opposition will hold a march on April 19 to express concerns about the Conde administration intention to commit fraud in the upcoming legislative elections. In addition, the opposition will call for the cessation of all activities of the electoral commission, the CENI, headed by Louceny Camara.
It should be noted that the site of the kick-off of the march, the September 28 stadium, is the same place where the September 28, 2009 massacre by government force occurreds. Further, two of the most notorious perpetrators of the massacre, Tiegboro Camara and Claude Pivi, are in the employ of Alpha Conde.