Guinea is a Rogue State and Alpha Conde is the Rogue-in-Chief
The Guinean opposition returned to the streets on April 18 for its first protest since the February 27 march. In both events, unarmed, peaceful demonstrators were met with brutal violence by state security forces. In the case of the February 27 march, the state supplemented the violence with mercenaries and ethnic-based militias and, for the next five days opposition neighborhoods, primarily Peul, were ravaged. In the end, hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested, homes and businesses were burned, a major marketplace went up in smoke, several people were summarily executed and no one has been brought to account for these crimes. Welcome to the rogue state of Guinea.
In spite of the atrocities committed and the dangers that lie ahead, the street is where the opposition must be and stay. With the opposition’s ability to turn out hundreds of thousands of people in Conakry alone, this sea of humanity delivers the most compelling message of all — Alpha Conde does not have the support of the majority of Guineans and never has.
Between the February 27 march and the April 18 attempt to march, the opposition pulled out of the dialogue. The two last straws came when Prime Minister Fofana hoodwinked the UN West Africa representative, Said Djinnit, by asking him to sign off on the Conde government’s candidate for international facilitator which Fofana guaranteed was the choice of ALL parties — a bald-faced lie. Payback came shortly when the UN Secretary-General chose Djinnit as the dialogue facilitator. Simultaneously, Alpha Conde issued a decree setting the date of June 30 for legislative elections. The government did not consult with the opposition beforehand and, apparently, not with the electoral commission itself, the CENI. Conde’s decision was sudden, unilateral and seemingly desperate as it was announced on the weekend, late at night, on state TV. Djinnit’s appointment as facilitator and Conde’s decree setting the date for legislative elections are directly related.
As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, there is no other international official who knows more about how Conde operates, what he did to get “elected” and where the bodies are buried, than Said Djinnit. Simply put, Conde cannot afford to have Djinnit in Conakry and much less sitting at his dialogue table in Sekoutoureya Palace. Upon receiving signals that Djinnit would be the international facilitator, Conde knew what he had to do –sabotage the talks. He needed to make a move that was so egregious to the opposition that it would walk out of the dialogue. A unilateral decision on the date of the elections worked like a charm.
Now that the opposition has escaped from the clutches of a duplicitous government and there is little need to pretend, for the sake of the international community, that sitting down with a Conde government will bring peace, justice and prosperity to the country, it’s time to revise its strategy, tactics, rhetoric and communications to help the world understand what Guineans have known for a long time:`Guinea is a rogue state. It is irredeemable and the longer the rogue-in-chief, Alpha Conde, remains at the helm, the deeper the country sinks. Guinea is a broken country where basic freedoms are denied and security forces are the bandits and killers. Shortly, we will take a look at how Conde drove Guinea to its rogue state status, but first, a closer look at Conde is in order.
ROGUE-IN-CHIEF, ALPHA CONDE
Conde, in a very short time in office, has shamefully created a corrupt, human rights-abusing, pariah-like, unstable excuse of a country. Who is the head rogue? The first thing to know about Conde is that his ties with Guinea are few and of short duration. His mother and father (she, a senagalo-malienne and he, a burkinabe) migrated from Burkina Faso to Guinea where Conde was born. At the age of 14, Conde was sent to Paris where he spent the next 59 years, evidently without distinction. While he is addressed as “professor,” accounts of his schooling and teaching background are murky. So what did he do during all those years in France? Rumors over a long period of time suggest that he was involved in a profession that would make him an extremely valuable asset for France to have at the helm of resource-rich Guinea: an informant for French intelligence services.
As preparations began for Guinea’s 2010 presidential election, recall that Bernard Kouchner, former French foreign minister, and a school friend of Conde’s, swooped in to Conakry and played a significant role in steering the overall election process. In addition, the Organization of the International Francophonie took hold of the election like a pit bull with a bone it its jaws. Let’s just say that France was well-represented in planning and “guiding” the election.
It was the OIF which allowed the second round of the election to be delayed four months (contrary to the two-week interval mandated by the constitution), during which Conde pursued heads of state and others in the international community to help fund his campaign. In exchange for this generosity, Conde promised his donors a stake in Guinea’s natural resources after he assumed the presidency. He used the money he collected to “transform” his paltry 18% finish in the first round of the election into a magical “victory” in the overall election. He dispensed much of the money in the form of bribes to a variety of Guinean officials to ensure their cooperation in the elaborate fraud needed to take him from 18% of the vote to 52% in the second round. Were it not for the help of foreigners, Alpha Conde could never have become the president of Guinea.
This is all to say that Conde’s ties to Guinea are threadbare –not only does he not know Guinea, he has no affinity for its people, otherwise he would not command security forces to shoot them. Conde’s allegiance is to French politicos and international high rollers who bring him mining deals from which he will skim millions to take as he is tossed out the door – and, he will be tossed out.
Now that we have unveiled the rogue, let’s see how, in such a short amount of time, he transformed the country into a rogue state.
GUINEA AS A ROGUE STATE
Generally, a rogue state is characterized by authoritarian rule, serious human rights abuses, use of terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. While we can’t apply the last one, the other three fit like a glove.
Alpha Conde is the poster boy for authoritarian rule, partly because of his personality but also because there is little institutional structure to stop him. Conde makes unilateral decisions regularly, with the most important ones enshrined in presidential decrees. Challenges, appeals, clarifications, questions etc., are not allowed. Without a standing parliament he is like a kid in a candy store, swallowing whole the constitution, national laws andn with it, the lives of Guinean citizens.
When it comes to the other two primary characteristics of a rogue state, serious human rights abuse and terrorism, we can discuss these together because, in Conde’s Guinea, one does not exist without the other. Conde came to office illegitimately and criminally, via a grand election scheme designed to intimidate and disenfranchise voters of his opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, and this was accomplished largely through terror. Part of this plot involved interim-president, Sekouba Konate, who supplied the muscle, weapons and rapists to attack, murder and rape opposition supporters, primarily those of the Peul ethnicity, in cities such as Siguiri and Kourousso. The objective was to terrorize communities likely to vote for Diallo causing people to flee, become displaced, and disenfranchised by making it impossible for them to return to their home districts to vote.
When you come to office by stealing the election, you must use extensive repression just to stay in the job. Since Conde arrived in office, he has violated the constitution, national laws and international laws – a virtual trifecta! His offenses run the gamut from violations of freedom of speech and assembly to ordering the police to use deadly force against unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, to the incarceration of opposition supporters without cause often languishing in jail for long periods of time.
The security and military forces are established entities in Guinea whose existence is embedded in the constitution, national laws and various military-security regulations. Unfortunately, In Guinea these rules and safeguards are not applied generally, and especially, not when it comes to the opposition. The September 28, 2009, massacre and rapes stand out as the worst crimes ever committed in Guinea. Both military and security forces coordinated the attack against opposition demonstrators and were the primary perpetrators of the murder of 200 people, the injury of 1,200 and the vicious rape and mutilation of over 100 women. This was an audacious combination of terror through which every manner of human rights abuse was committed. In the years since, security forces have metamorphosed into bona fide “thugs,” and certainly not the kind of law enforcement officers from whom Guineans would seek help or protection. These guys have access to all the guns they need to rob, rape, and murder, which they do with impunity. This is the result of a license to kill which Alpha Conde gave to both the military and the security forces in the early days of his regime. It is specific to two areas: those involved in opposition politics and ethnic Peuls. When both are combined, this represents the overwhelming majority of Guineans.
Yet, in the September 2009 massacre and rapes, there was another “force” committing heinous crimes that day.— mercenaries from Liberia. Since Conde has been in office he has hired people outside the “military-security forces” framework for operations he does not want attributed to the military and security forces. As we shall see, Conde’s acquisition of “off the grid” killers has widened considerably over the last few years..
In September 2011, the opposition held a protest march which drew huge numbers of people. The security forces were very brutal in their treatment of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. But, within the march, something very strange was taking place – men stabbing opposition protesters with knives. Later, we find out that the ones doing the stabbing are part of a group that Conde hired from the Forest region, known as Donzos (hunters).
Months later, rumors spread of ethnic-based militias, consisting of young Malinke men receiving training in Angola. Those rumors quickly became fact and now several “classes” of ethnic militias have graduated from training. The militias are being housed in military barracks throughout Conakry.
It is Conde’s procurement of mercenaries and ethnic militias that slides Guinea into its most roguish and dangerous circumstances, primarily because of the increased terror factor. These irregular forces hold no legal status and are not bound by any of Guinea’s laws. Conde regularly supplements security forces with Donzos and more recently, he debuted his ethnic militias. It was mercenaries joined by Malinke militias plus state security forces which tore Conakry apart in the days after the February 27 march. They laid siege in opposition neighborhoods, primarily Peul, for several days ransacking, shooting, stabbing, raping, mutilating, killing, and burning of homes and businesses. This is Conde’s response to a peaceful opposition march.
After Rwanda, the world understands clearly that the only reason to acquire an ethnic militia is to conduct an ethnic genocide, in this case, the Peuls. Conde’s anti-Peul hate speech began during the presidential elections and continues to this day. Verbalizing his hatred of Peuls has become second nature so much so that he told the prosecutor, in the trial of the July 19, 2011, “self-attack” on his home, that the prosecution strategy for the trial should be changed to blame the attack on a “complot Peul,” or Peul plot, a concept already soaked in blood in Sekou Toure’s world many years ago.
Dangerous times are ahead for Guineans and serious instability for worrisome investors. Conde’s rogue state features him as the captain of terrorist attacks – against his own people. He has trained mercenaries and militias on stand-by, he knows where his prospective victims live, and he has the natural resources to persuade good people to look the other way as it unfolds.
The clear message to the international community is that, for the basest of reasons, it supported Alpha Conde as he drove the country off a cliff. Without that support, Conde would have been tossed out long ago in the direction of France, his real home, and the people of Guinea would not have had to endure the humiliation and ravages of a thug at the helm of their country.