Skip to content

New York Times: West Africa’s Summer of Discontent, Especially in Guinea

September 11, 2012

NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO:  This young man has obviously been hit on the head with a truncheon because of the particular impression pattern on his head.  Those opposition supporters who were injured in the August 27 march were thrown in jail without medical treatment and have received none thus far.  Without medical assistance, those with broken limbs, run the risk of amputation.

Further down is an excerpt on Guinea from the New York Times article,”Summer of Siege for West Africa as Discontent Boils Into the Streets” by Adam Nossiter.

Hopefully, the NYT will allow author, Mr. Nossiter, a trip to Guinea to follow up on observations he made in his article about unrest in West Africa, because he is on the right track. In particular, he may want to further develop his premise about a disconnect between outsiders and Guineans regarding Alpha Conde’s running of the country. The international community has consistently slapped a happy face over the seal of the Republic of Guinea to hide the serious instability brought on by Conde’s theft of the 2010 presidential election. Conde continued, after his assumption of power, to promote violence against Peuhls as a matter of public policy. Further, he is promoting appalling corruption in the mining industry which he personally orchestrates. The international community is trying to paint a Guinean picture of “democracy, stability, and fair elections,” in an effort to keep the investors coming to Guinea. But, as Mr. Nossiter suggests in his article, if you talk to the people you will find out an ethnic civil war is on the horizon and everything is going to hell in Conde’s handbasket.

Secondly, it would be very helpful if Mr. Nossiter could dig a little deeper into why the opposition believes that, barring any significant change, parliamentary elections will be fraudulent. First, a close study of the 2010 campaign and election will reveal that state-sponsored, anti-Peuhl violence was a constant throughout and a central element of an overall scheme to disenfranchise voters. Regarding the vote rigging, it was difficult to keep up with the amount of electoral fraud needed to make Conde appear to be the top vote getter, because the real winner, Cellou Dalein Diallo, had won the presidency outright in the first round with 53%. Conde had a lot of help in conducting the fraud, beginning with an operative from Conde’s RPG party who sat on the electoral council. Louceny Camara, committed so much election fraud in 2010 he was charged in a court and found guilty of vote rigging. In addition, the Organization of the International Francophonie (OIF) interfered throughout the election and, in the second round, appointed a Malian general to serve as the president of Guinea’s electoral council!

Now, the international community is clamoring for parliamentary elections and the same faces are still around. First, Louceny Camara is still a member of the electoral council, even though last week he pretended to resign in a dramatic TV announcement that only Shakespeare could truly appreciate. And, the OIF has made two trips to Guinea this year to assess the state of election preparedness. The opposition has good reason to be suspicious about the elections and should remain so.

If Mr. Nossiter comes to Guinea, he will have quite a story to tell when he returns. That is, if Conde allows him in. Journalists attempting to interview the opposition leaders on August 27, about the state attempt to assassinate them, were set upon by loyalists of Conde’s party. When it was over, the journalists were injured, their cars and equipment were damaged, and one journalist was nearly hung. Welcome to Guinea, eh?

 

Excerpt on Guinea from New York Times article:

Guinea is a particularly troubling example of the region’s summer of trouble. In 2010, it managed a legitimate presidential election, its first ever, after more than 50 years of authoritarian oppression. A veteran leader of the opposition, Alpha Condé, a man imprisoned and exiled by the country’s longtime tyrants, was elected in a vote judged fair.

And yet late last month, his police officers were rounding up dozens of demonstrators, firing tear gas into the house of a political opponent, shooting live ammunition at protesters in the capital’s ramshackle neighborhoods, and beating and arresting them. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the “excessive force” used by Mr. Condé’s police. In one case, the police fired on a bulletproof car carrying the top opposition leaders, the leaders said.

Mr. Condé’s country could no longer be considered exemplary. What happened? The opposition suspects him of wanting to rig much-postponed legislative elections. The machinery of the election, critical in countries with no democratic tradition, was thought to be in the hands of a Condé ally. Memories of ethnic persecution simmered. The election date has been repeatedly pushed back and in place of a Parliament there is a “National Transitional Council,” nearly two years after Mr. Condé’s election.

The 2010 election that had appeared to bestow legitimacy did so only partly. The underlying problems — weak institutions, ethnic hatred, brutal security forces — were not resolved by the vote. That good-conduct medal granted from the outside had little meaning to the people of a country just nine from the bottom on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, where deadly cholera is a regular summer visitor because of the near-total absence of sanitation in the capital’s poor districts.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s