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Conde’s Shell Game with the CENI – Articles from the English Language Press

November 8, 2012

Guinea Oye has not posted to this blog for a while. In an attempt to make up for lost time and to provide comprehensive information on the most important issue unfolding in Guinea, here are four recent articles in the English language press about the “new”CENI.

Alpha Conde reiterated earlier today that the International Organization of the Fracophonie will supervise the elections. This, in spite of the fact that the Francophonie is one of the primary architects of the theft of the 2010 presidential election for Alpha Conde.

Stay tuned.

VOICE OF AMERICA

Guinean Opposition Protests Makeup of Electoral Commission

Nancy Palus

October 31, 2012

DAKAR — Guinea’s opposition is protesting the makeup of the electoral commission, appealing to the country’s highest court and threatening street demonstrations. It is the latest phase in the sometimes violent battle between the ruling party and the opposition over long-overdue legislative polls.
The Guinean government this week announced the membership of the independent electoral commission, which must be in place so the country can move forward with a long-delayed parliamentary election. But some opposition leaders say the list is unlawful because it does not include the legally required number of opposition members.
Aboubacar Sylla is spokesperson for Guinea’s main opposition coalition.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he said the government’s list includes only nine of the 10 members submitted by the coalition. The group is asking Guinea’s highest court to suspend the electoral commission’s work until a new list can be established – one that conforms with the law, he says.
Opposition leaders have said if the high court validates the government-decreed list, they will call for street demonstrations. In recent months, street protests in the capital of Conakry have ended up in violent and sometimes deadly clashes; the opposition says police and gendarmes use excessive force, while the government accuses opposition militants of attacking the security forces.
Under Guinean law, the electoral commission is to be made up 10 people from the opposition, 10 from the ruling party, with five from civil society and the administration.
The party taking up the opposition’s 10th spot is considered “centrist.” The dispute points in part to a debate over who makes up Guinea’s legitimate opposition. For Elizabeth Côté, head of IFES in Guinea – International Foundation for Electoral Systems, it’s down to a lack of clarity in the law.
She says neither the constitution nor the electoral law refers to “centrist” parties, even though there are long-time opponents who call themselves “centrist.” For Côté this is all part of a process to establish a democratic system – something that will take time in a country that has spent most of its 54 years under autocratic rule.
Many opposition supporters still contest President Alpha Condé’s rise to power in Guinea’s first-ever competitive presidential election in 2010. Guinea was to hold a parliamentary election within six months of that poll, but since then it’s been political deadlock, with the opposition and the presidential party blaming each other for delays.
Guinea has not had an elected parliament since 2008, when soldiers took power upon the death of Lansana Conté.
Alhoussein Makanera is advisor with the government ministry overseeing election preparations (The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization). He says the coalition protesting the list is the “radical” opposition who refuses to include more moderate actors in the electoral commission.
He says this opposition coalition does not want to go to parliamentary elections, plain and simple. There are parties that oppose those in power but do not share the same position and strategy of this radical opposition – which he says includes vandalizing public property and insulting the president.
Electoral commission members were to be sworn in and elect the commission’s president on Wednesday, but this has been postponed pending the outcome of this latest dispute.

WASHINGTON POST

Guinea electoral commission swears in most members; opposition to challenge 1 spot in court

By Associated Press, Published: November 1

CONAKRY, Guinea — Guinea’s government swore in most members of its new electoral commission Thursday after opposition concerns earlier delayed the ceremony in a controversy that has prompted violent street protests.

Bakary Fofana, the former foreign affairs minister during Guinea’s transitional government several years ago, was elected head of the commission. The panel’s composition has been a source of tension in this West African country long plagued by dictatorship and strongman rule.

Members of the commission were appointed earlier this week via a presidential decree, but the opposition was unhappy with the list and said it would take the matter to court.

The 25-seat electoral body is supposed to consist of 10 members from the ruling party, 10 from the opposition, three from civil society and two from the administration. Aboubacar Sylla, the opposition spokesman, said that of the 10 seats reserved for the opposition, only nine were in fact opposition members.

After earlier staging a boycott, the nine opposition members ultimately took part in Thursday’s ceremony.

“We have decided to bring our members to the swearing-in ceremony but we maintain our appeal that we have made to the Supreme Court to insist upon our 10th seat,” Sylla said.

Opposition activists say that if the court does not hear their appeal, they will call for a march.

Previous marches led by the opposition have led to clashes with security forces, often along ethnic lines, because the country’s police and army are largely drawn from the same ethnic group as current President Alpha Conde.

In 2010, Guinea succeeded in holding its first democratic presidential election since winning independence from France in 1958.

The country, though, has become increasingly divided along ethnic lines. It now has a democratically elected president but not a functioning parliament because of the failure to organize legislative elections.

GLOGABLTIMES

 Ex-minister Bakary Fofana elected chairman of Guinea’s electoral commission

Xinhua | 2012-11-2 15:53:55
By Agencies

Guinea’s former foreign minister Bakary Fofana was elected, by majority, as the chairman of the country’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) during the institution’s first plenary session which was held on Thursday.
Fofana who was a representative of the Guinean civil society, was elected through secret ballot by 15 commissioners against his main challenger Abdel Aziz Camara who obtained 5 votes. 20 commissioners out of the institution’s 25 commissioners took part in the election.
The two positions of deputy CENI chairperson went to Fatoumata Biya Diallo of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG, opposition) and Ibrahima Kalil Keita from the presidential camp.
The new chairman said that the formation of a new CENI comes at a time when the finalization of the transition is considered by everyone as the major challenge for moving the country towards a constitutional order.
“I am aware of our mission as a commission and the challenges that lie ahead especially in the prevailing circumstances that are marked by a climate of mistrust between political actors,” Fofana said.
He noted that this mission is for the new commissioners to accomplish, in all neutrality, impartiality and professionally, the mandate they have been given by the Guinean people.
“We must ensure that the national interests triumph over personal and partisan interests,” the CENI chairman said.
On behalf of the Guinean government, the Territorial Administration Minister Alhassane Conde assured the new CENI team of every necessary support.

VOICE OFAMERICA

Guinea’s Electoral Commission Faces Challenges

Nancy Palus

November 02, 2012

DAKAR — Guinea’s electoral commission is sworn in and ready to begin moving the country to long-delayed legislative elections. The opposition, which has contested the commission’s membership, took part in Thursday’s swearing-in, but says major hurdles remain before Guinea can hold a free, transparent poll.
The government-decreed membership list, which sparked a protest when it was released on Monday, includes nine of the 10 people delegated by the opposition.
Under Guinean law the commission is to have 10 members from the ruling party, 10 from the opposition.
Fodé Oussou Fofana, vice president of the UFDG party, and a leading member of Guinea’s opposition coalition, says the government’s move was aimed at provoking the opposition. The government wants to give the international community the impression that the opposition does not want to go to elections. Fofana adds that this is in part why the opposition decided to participate in the launch of the electoral commission.
Still, opposition members say the commission does not yet conform to the law and they will continue their appeal to get their 10th member included.
Beyond membership issues, though, a longstanding grievance of the opposition remains, the company that will manage electoral lists. Guinea’s opposition for months has argued that the current operator was unilaterally hand-picked by President Alpha Condé and must be replaced.
Opposition leader Fodé Oussou Fofana says the new electoral commission must select an operator based on a consensus. We will not accept that the government impose a tainted, unfair electoral list.
Opposition leaders say this must be one of the electoral commission’s first priorities.
For its part the Guinean government says it is committed to an election that will be free, fair and transparent.
Guinea was to have elected a parliament six months after President Condé came to power at the end of 2010. The incomplete political transition has some donors suspending development assistance.
Guineans say they are eager to see the country break out of political deadlock and move on. Diomandé Ibrahima, a university student in Conakry says that people welcomed the news that the electoral commission is finally getting underway. Guineans are keen to see these elections finally happen, he says.
On Thursday, after members of the commission were sworn in, they elected Bakary Fofana commission president. Long active in Guinean civil society, Fofana was a minister in a transitional government in 2010.
The commission must now come up with a timeline for legislative elections.

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