Guineans Give Former African Union Head, Jean Ping, Hell in Front of the United Nations
Last Friday, Guineans, from all over the northeast, came to New York on the third anniversary of the September 28, 2009 massacre in Guinea. In the morning, protesters gathered in front of the Guinean mission to the UN where they called for justice for Sept. 28 victims and for Alpha Conde to leave office. After that, they marched to the rally site, Dag Hamerskjold Park, a few blocks from the United Nations. As participants waited for the rally to begin, a huge roar erupted within the crowd.
Across the street, Jean Ping, former head of the African Union was walking with colleagues. Ping took a couple of side glances at the crowd trying to determine if the noise coming at him was a good or a bad thing. He figured it out quickly and stepped up his pace accordingly. What had Ping done to deserve the wrath of the people of Guinea?
Throughout the 2010 election campaign, the interim government of Guinea, led by Sekouba Konate, violently targeted those of the Peul ethnic group, most of whom were supporters of presidential candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo. Election fraud by an electoral commission member and party operative of candidate, Alpha Conde, Louceny Camara, prevented Diallo from winning the election outright in the first round. The second round was to consist of the two top vote getters of the first round, which were Diallo and Sidya Toure. After more Louceny Camara “magic,” Alpha Conde, rather than Sidya Toure, was identified as the next highest finisher. A Guinean electorate, with a sinking feeling, watched the opening of the second round between Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Conde who was supported by a well-oiled campaign machine designed to steal the presidency for him. The state violence against Diallo supporters increased dramatically in the second round and consisted of massacres, burning of homes and businesses and the use of rape, all intended to intimidate Peuls into not voting in the election. It worked, thousands of Peuls were disenfranchised.
When Jean Ping, in his interview, belittled Guineans’ resistance to a fraudulent election and ignored the state violence against unarmed citizens, his reference to demonstrators as “looters” was the last straw. If Ping had any familiarity with Guinea, he would have known that looters tend to be from the state security services.
Guineans understand that Ping’s comments were made to obscure the fact that there was substantial resistance in the country to Conde’s theft of the presidency. As a result, the memory of brave Guineans who were killed and raped in this struggle was obscured as well. Seeing Jean Ping, face-to-face last Friday, allowed the people of Guinea to do something they don’t often get a chance to do – tell someone who is among those responsible for bringing Alpha Conde to the presidency, to “go to hell!”
Original Jeune Afrique interview with Jean Ping in French