Hollande’s Letter to Conde: A Fumbled Makeover?
On the 54th anniversary of Guinea’s independence, French President Francois Hollande introduced us to a somewhat “new and improved” Alpha Conde via his letter of congratulations on the occasion. It is customary for heads of state to herald the accomplishments of leaders in congratulatory letters and to reinvent tyrants as democrats and innovators, as long as the leader is “their” tyrant, as is the case with Hollande and Conde.
Hollande’s praise for Conde is contained in a rosy, but peculiar paragraph from his letter. Most Guineans would not recognize the occupant of Sekoutoureya Palace in this spinned light.
“Under your leadership, in a short amount of time, Guinea has known remarkable progress: reform of the security sector continues, the fight against impunity is experiencing unprecedented developments and improving financial governance has led to reaching the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, which will allow Guinea to provide additional resources to enhance its natural resources and carry out social and educational projects which its people need.”
The reform of the military is a longstanding concern of the international community. The military junta that took over in Guinea after President Conte’s death in 2008, scared the beejeebers out of the international community which seeks a pliable civilian government, a loyal military, and a prevailing calm that would keep investors investing. In 2010, during the presidential election, the international community looked at the 40,000+, largely Malinke army, and the leading presidential candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, a Peul, who was destined to win the election in the first round (which he did, until electoral council member, Louceny Camara, stole thousands of ballots cast for Diallo). A perplexed international community yielded to France’s plan to make its 59 year resident, Alpha Conde, a Malinke, the next president, through fraud orchestrated by the International Organization of the Francophonie. A few days ago, Conde announced that the Francophonie will monitor the country’s legislative elections due to be held in 2013.
Guinea inaugurated the reform of the military by saying it would pare down the military by 4,000, largely those soldiers of retirement age. It is difficult to know how many soldiers, have indeed, been retired from the military. As for additional reforms, if anything is happening in this regard, it’s being kept quiet. Guinea remains with a 40,000+ army which lacks a foreign enemy and has nowhere to go other than after their own people. Further, if the international community is truly interested in military reform, how does Conde’s training of ethnic militias in Angola fit in?
The allegiance of the Guinean military to a particular leader is not based on respect or politics, but ethnicity. A problem that should be addressed square on, some day, when Guinea engages in a real reform of the military.
As for Hollande’s statement about impunity, it is very odd. He applauds Conde for a struggle against impunity in which there have been “unprecedented developments.” What does this mean? Operating with impunity is strictly the purview of those in power. How can Conde, the poster boy for impunity, be leading the fight against it? If the intention is to tout the wonders of a Conde presidency, then Hollande should write a letter to the people of Guinea to explain this.
A few weeks ago, France inaugurated a makeover of Conde by orchestrating his cabinet re-shuffle, a major hoax. Yet the media bought off on it happily and is billing the shake-up as affirmation of his democratic ideals. Further, Hollande’s letter to Conde, which leads us directly to Conde’s major problem – impunity, is received with equally giddy press excitement.
The real story of the 54th anniversary of Guinea’s independence is that Guineans are saddled with an ethnic-baiting tyrant who’s ready to plunge Guinea into a civil war backed by his massive army and assorted ethnic militias, Donzos, and RPGists. And, the international community? Once again, it has yielded all to France which is re-touching Conde’s make-up to cover his theft of the upcoming legislative elections which will produce a parliament willing to back him in the slaughter of fellow citizens.
But, there is one thing that cannot be hidden with make-up –- France’s hands, dripping with blood.