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GUINEA, 7-11: Conde in Paris, In or Out – Detainees from Conde Home “Attack,” the CENI and the Francophonie, and New US Amb.

July 11, 2012

Conde in Paris

Paris was the last stop on Alpha Conde’s whirlwind tour which included Rio, Thailand and Malaysia. On Saturday, June 30, the Guinean opposition in France held a protest against Conde and his government policies. During the same weekend, Conde met with the Guinean community, largely consisting of his political supporters.

Having arrived in Paris without any commitment from the Elysee Palace to receive him, Conde finally succeeded in getting a meeting with French President Francois Hollande. The meeting, which took place on July 2, only came about through the direct intervention of Tony Blair and Bernard Kouchner. Hollande and Conde spoke for 45 minutes in a meeting characterized by the French government as “formal,” but not “official,” since Conde was not in France in an official capacity.  According to reports, Hollande told Conde to release the large number of detainees languishing in jails in Guinea. And, Conde got what came to France to get — a few pics with Hollande. Conde returned home on Thursday, July 5.

Last Year’s “Attack” on Conde’s Residence – Charges, then No Charges

On July 2, when it was scheduled to hand down indictments for the “attack” on Conde’s home, a Guinean court handed down a decision to exclude 14 detainees from prosecution, including the highest ranking military officer taken into custody, Gen. Nouhou Thiam. Yet, so far, none of these prisoners has been released, in spite of numerous efforts by their attorneys.

The authenticity of the “attack” at Conde’s house on July 19, 2011, is highly disputed. Most believe that Conde faked the attack so he could use it to round up his enemies and throw them in jail. Many of the military incarcerated, including Gen. Nouhou Thiam, were thought to be close associates of former interim president, Sekouba Konate. As for civilians, Conde accused the Vice-President of the UFDG opposition party, Bah Oury, of masterminding the attack. Bah Oury narrowly escaped being killed by military soldiers Conde sent to his house. He has been living in exile in France ever since.

The CENI-Election Soap Opera

During Alpha Conde’s visit to France, he announced that the International Organization of the Francophonie would make a second visit to Guinea to collaborate with Guinea’s electoral commission, the CENI, on future legislative elections. Quite naturally, the opposition is wary of any involvement by the Francophonie because the last time it got involved, during the 2010 election, a Malian ended up presiding over the election and the people of Guinea got stuck with the usurper, Alpha Conde, as their next president.

New US Ambassador Nominated for Guinea – from Erbil, Iraq to the Republic of Guinea

In late May, President Obama nominated Alexander Laskaris to be the next US ambassador to Guinea. Laskaris’ Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. He is a career diplomat. The White House released the following bio:

Alexander M. Laskaris, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, is Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, Iraq, a position he has held since June 2010. Previously, he was the Team Leader for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq from 2008 to 2009. Prior to serving in Iraq, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo (2006-2009) and Burundi (2003-2005). Previously, Mr. Laskaris was a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff (2001-2003) and Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (1999-2001). Other overseas assignments have included Political Officer in Luanda, Angola; Political and Economic Officer in Gaborone, Botswana; and Vice Consul in Monrovia, Liberia. From 1996 to 1997, he served as Desk Officer for Rwanda and Burundi at the Department of State.

He received a B.S. from Georgetown University and an M.A. from the U.S. Army War College.

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