If you have seen videos of opposition campaign rallies, you know the crowds are huge. The attendees appear hungry for, well, anyone who is not Alpha Conde. In fact, campaign rallies held during the 2010 presidential campaign were just as large and lively but it did little good when up against built-in fraud and and dirty tricks disenfranchisement coordinated by the CENI, Sekouba Konate, Alpha Conde and his RPG loyalists and enough state-sponsored forces to dole out the necessary repression to hold the farce together.
These days, the CENI is imploding under the weight of its current misdeeds and illegal manipulation of the electoral process. This includes not living up to the July 3 agreement which was supposed to signal an end to “hostilities” and a return to legislative elections. But, each day, more and more evidence surfaces of a spectacular fraudulent election in the making for September 24. So much so, the opposition is threatening a return to the streets in a few days if the CENI and the government do not come through on their commitments and adhere to constitutional provisions regarding elections.
As for the people of Guinea, they are getting a bitter dose of the election, even before it starts. There are numerous reports of voters not being able to find their names on the voting roll. Also, the CENI’s plan to add thousands of new voter stations throughout the country is worrisome for many. First, adding so many new stations presents a logistical nightmare for voters trying to determine if they are to report to their old voting station or if they have been re-assigned to a new one and whether the voting roll will contain their names when they get there. The CENI promises to add all missing names to the voter roll as well as make sure all voters are informed if they are to report to new voting stations. Representatives of the international community are echoing the CENI’s promises as if to re-assure Guineans and the rest of the world that the CENI means what it says. It’s a good thing Guineans are not fools, because this is, as they say, “deja vu all over again.” In 2010, many found their names absent from the voter rolls and found themselves often assigned to the incorrect voting stations. This was not incompetence nor happenstance, it was by design.
Ironically, in the United States, after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which ensures citizens the right to vote, Southern whites conspired to prevent African-Americans from voting. Their primary tools? Removing names of African-Americans from voting rolls and bouncing them from one voting station to another, knowing that the need to get to jobs or a lack of transportation money would prevent them from being able to cast a ballot. The combined impact of these methods resulted in the disenfranchisement of large numbers of African-Americans well after the Voting Rights Act became the law of the land.
The international community has needs that can only be met with the completion of Guinea’s legislative elections. There is aid money to be distributed, projects to pursue and investor confidence to bolster. What happens during the election is of little significance as long as a few representatives of the international community publicly announce, the day after the election, “while the election had some irregularities, overall, it was free and fair.” It worked in the 2010 election and it will work again. But, diplomats, UN and EU representatives, etc., remain uneasy. The signs are unmistakable on social media as they or their organizations issue cheerful, downright uplifting messages which obscure the truth of the enormous fraud already built into the Guinean electoral system — “there will always be issues in any election.” Of course there will, but it’s a matter of proportion. In the 2010 election, it took a mountain of fraud for the CENI et al. to go from a first round with Conde getting 18% and Cellou Dalein Diallo’s 53% of the vote (which would have won him the presidency if Louceny Camara had not stolen over 50,000 ballots cast for him in Conakry). And, then, from there to Diallo losing in the second round?? Fraude extraordinaire! Yet, the day after the election, Alpha Conde was Guinea’s “first democratically-elected president.” Yet, those who anointed Conde as such, would never accept an election in their countries if the CENI was running it. The international community shows the people of Guinea an immense amount of disrespect when it expects them to tolerate this situation.
The point is the international community needs order and calm in Guinea and they expect to achieve it with this election. Yet, most importantly, this isn’t just any legislative election. This is the election that will validate Conde’s “win” of the 2010 election. When he “wins” a majority in the national assembly, no one in the international community will be interested in hearing about Conde’s sins nor his crimes. Yet, to the people of Guinea, he is a lawless usurper and they will never stop trying to get rid of him. They can’t stop because he has been responsible for too many deaths, too many lives destroyed, too many arbitrary arrests, and too many attacks on opposition demonstrations and Peul neighborhoods by state forces supplemented by Malinke militias, Donzos, etc. who have killed, raped and destroyed livelihoods. And, yes, you may also lay at the feet of Alpha Conde the impact of his theft of elections which prevents the MAJORITY of the population from having any true political representation and, therefore, no participation in determining the course of their country.
By September 25, Conde may succeed in stealing his second election in three years and with it, he will have managed to alienate well over half the people of Guinea. When you steal an election, much less two, you arrive or are maintained in office, but have no real mandate to govern. Only massive repression will keep Conde in place. There can be no doubt that Conde will pull out all the stops in the next two years of his presidency to crush the opposition, especially its Peul members. And, much of the blame for the coming carnage must be placed at the feet of an international community for passing off wildly fraudulent elections as hallmarks of democracy.
One day, the international community will be forced to choose between Alpha Conde and the people of Guinea. If unable, there are many who will make the decision for them.