Guinea Gov’t. Re-Shuffle Has Fingerprints of Int’l Community All Over it, Especially the Elysee Palace

The international community’s policy towards Guinea is straightforward: at all costs, the huge Guinean army must be prevented from rearing its ugly head and scaring away investors. In the 2010 presidential election, Conde, a Malinke, was deemed the person who could best prevent a coup by a largely Malinke army. Beyond that, the international community, which installed Conde in the presidency, has placed few constraints on him.

But now, the international community, anxious to close the deal on Guinea’s “democratic” transition by pressing for legislative elections, is watching Conde nervously. By Conde giving his security forces shoot-to-kill orders during peaceful demonstrations, making anti-Peul politics the center of his government policy, striking shady mining deals while courting mysterious loans, and relentlessly jerking the opposition around, when combined, scream for a presidential makeover. When you add Guinea’s refusal to pursue prosecutions for the September 28, 2009, massacre and the issuance of a UN statement this past September 28, that “political rape goes unpunished in Guinea,” the makeover becomes mandatory.

Unfortunately, the makeover is not designed to improve governance, rather it is a mechanism the international community will use to express its confidence that Guinean legislative elections will be “free and fair” and to ensure broad acceptance of the results, even if they are fraudulent, as was the case in the 2010 presidential election.

Who is capable of transforming Conde over the next few months? The answer is simple: Guinea’s former colonial ruler, France. This is the country where Conde lived for 59 years, this is the country where Conde met his good friend, Bernard Kouchner, the former foreign minister, and this is the country without which there would be no Organization of the International Francophonie which, with Kouchner at the forefront, orchestrated Conde’s “win” of the 2010 presidential election.

The first stage of Conde’s makeover is the re-shuffle of his cabinet. France’s prescription for the new cabinet is simple: get rid of the military uniforms sitting at the table in cabinet meetings and create a human rights ministry. The media are full of analyses of the re-shuffle of the Guinean government, much of it suggesting that Conde has fully embraced “democracy,” and that his government re-shuffle is proof. After two years with Conde at the helm of the country, journalists should know that Conde doesn’t do the right thing unless forced from the outside and, even then, he makes sure it is done in a way that is advantageous for him only.

Conde’s ridding the cabinet of the military is nothing more than an impressive swindle. He removed three senior military officers, which allows him to bill his government as “civilian,” which the media and the international community will translate as “democratic.” But two military officers remain in his government who are the primary perpetrators of the September 28, 2009, massacre. Claude Pivi, is the Minister for Presidential Security, but the new cabinet roster does not show his name nor list his position. And, Moussa Tiegboro Camara, technically not a cabinet member, but his czar-like responsibilities for drug enforcement, organized crime, and terrorism, ensure him a seat at cabinet meetings. Neither Pivi nor Camara were dumped in the re-shuffle. International human rights organizations have been banging Conde about Pivi and Camara, yet nothing is likely to change. Both men are from the ruling military junta of 2008-2009 and former interim president Sekouba Konate is rumored to have told Conde to make room for them in his government.

The second cabinet swindle is the establishment of a human rights ministry. After Conde clearly stated at a Washington meeting in 2011, in response to a question about human rights, that he was the president, not the head of human rights, it is clear this issue is not high on his agenda. Given that it is 2012 and almost every leader, good or bad, has a human rights office or ministry, Conde can no longer buck the idea of creating one. But, hold your applause because, just like other leaders who don’t give a damn about human rights, Conde has found a self-serving use for the new ministry. It will be nothing more than a repository for human rights complaints, which should fill very quickly given Guinea’s long-standing history of repression, and where the complaints will never see the light of day. Conde is using the same method to the September 28 massacre investigation and prosecutions by keeping the issue buried deep in the bowels of the Guinean judicial system.

But, this is not the end of Conde’s political makeover. In the next post, a bit of analysis about that near-love letter French president Hollande sent to Conde on the occasion of the anniversary of Guinea’s independence.

Stay tuned!

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Conde Planning Truth Commission on Violence: Shielding the Guilty and, Once Again, Robbing Guineans of Justice

Ethnic Peuls forced to flee parts of Guinea after the Conde campaign incited Malinke riots in which Peuls where killed, wounded and hundreds of businesses and house were destroyed.  Because of the displacement of the Peuls following the violence, virtually none of them were in their home districts to vote on election day.  With this, the Conde campaign achieved its goal of disenfranchising thousands of supporters of presidential candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo. 

Truth commissions are hollow places where governments retreat to avoid punishment as well as that of their proxy henchmen and where the aggrieved receive precious little satisfaction and no justice.  For hundreds of years, the process has been the same:  those who commit crimes are subject to a trial under the law and, if found guilty, are imprisoned. In cases like Rwanda and apartheid South Africa, where there were so many perpetrators and victims, establishing trials to determine the guilty were not always plausible.  The goal of truth commissions generally is to produce a modicum of social harmony so that people can “get on with their lives.”  But, does this happen?   Not really, because it never completes the necessary process for the victims to heal — punishment of the perpetrators.  Accounts from victims and/or their families in Rwanda have shown repeatedly that they wanted justice in a court of law, incarceration of the criminals so that they are prevented from committing similar crimes in the future, and the use of imprisonment as a deterrent to others considering similar crimes.

In the following article by Saliou Samb of Reuters Africa, who wrote most of Conde’s campaign propaganda for Western consumption, we get a glimpse of the script that Alpha Conde will use for his truth commission.  By imposing a truth commission on Guineans, Conde does not intend to ease the pain of ethno-political violence as he claims, but to shield current military and national officials from indictment by the International Criminal Court.  Their liability spans from the September 28, 2009, massacre to the Conde-/ state-orchestrated murder and pillaging in Siguri and Kouroussa in late October and through to the last Guinean shot by state security forces after provisional electoral results were announced on November 15.  All of these atrocities were state-sponsored attacks in which the Peul ethnic group was targeted and none are the result of ethnic “clashes,” as Mr. Samb so often  maintains.  

Rather than explaining how a truth commission might work , Mr. Samb spends nearly half of the article treating us to a gruesome recitation of the state-sponsored crimes of Sekou Toure.  He also refers briefly to transgressions by Lansana Conte and Dadis Camera’s responsibility for the September 28, 2009 massacre.  But Toure and Conte are dead and unlikely to show up at the Truth Commission and we have known for a long time that Mr. Camara, will have to answer to the ICC.  But, something strange is going on in that Mr. Samb does not mention any of the recent election-related crimes.  Once again, rather than reporting, Mr. Samb is framing the truth commission discussion for us. By inundating us with the horrors of  Guinea’s first three presidents and not a word about the atrocities of 2010, is he suggesting that the election-related crimes pale in comparison?  Of course he is.  If the 2010 atrocities are placed on the Truth Commission’s agenda, it will be the first step in implicating the primary perpetrators of those crimes:  Konate, Dore and Conde himself.

-The bottom line on the Truth Commission is that the most recent crimes will not be addressed, Dadis Camara will be taken care of outside the Commission process at the ICC for September 28, 2009, (even though Sekouba Konate, as Defense Minister at the time, should be at the ICC with Camara because he must have known what was afoot) and Conde will select a few military men to publically express forgiveness to victims of September 28 and that will be it.

-Contrary to Samb’s statement that human rights groups will see Conde’s Truth Commmission as a positive step, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and others have observed enough in Guinea to know that, before it even starts, the Truth Commission is a hoax. 

-Keep an eye on Mr. Samb regarding future articles on this topic.  Samb is very good at sewing together a public image for Conde and, as such, he only writes about what Mr. Conde wants you to know.

Guinea’s Conde plans truth commission on violence

Sat Dec 4, 2010 10:37pm GMT

* Truth and reconciliation process modelled on South Africa

* New leader says forgiveness will be important step

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Guinea will form a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at healing the wounds of ethnic and political violence that has plagued the West African country for decades, President-elect Alpha Conde said on Saturday.

The move will be modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid commission formed by Nelson Mandela and is likely to be well received by human rights groups which have condemned the country’s repeated spasms of violence.

This is “so that those who have made mistakes can ask forgiveness and that victims can accept this forgiveness”, Conde said on state television, days after Guinea’s Supreme Court validated his win in a hotly contested Nov. 7 poll in which voters largely followed ethnic lines.

“I know that forgiveness does not replace the dead or the arms that were chopped off, but it’s an important step.”

Conde, winner of Guinea’s first free election since independence from France in 1958, said reconciliation was critical to rebuilding the poor and unstable country.

Guinea, the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, has seen numerous bouts of violence over past decades. At least 10 people died in election clashes last month.

Among the most grim examples, former dictator and first post-independence leader Sekou Toure’s Camp Boiro still stands in the capital Conakry. Rights group Amnesty International says more that 50,000 political detainees died in horrendous conditions in the prison, now a military camp.

“DARK DIET”

According to some witnesseses, Toure’s prisoners were locked into cells where they were given neither food nor water and their screams were ignored until they died — a slow form of execution the regime called the ‘dark diet”.

Conde himself was sentenced to death in absentia by Toure’s regime, after he was implicated in a coup plot.

Under Lansana Conte, Guinea’s second post-independence leader, at least 130 protesters were shot dead by soldiers in downtown Conakry. Nearly two years of military rule followed his death in 2008.

Last year, now-exiled junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara drew condemnation after his security forces killed more than 150 pro-democracy demonstrators and raped scores of women gathered in a stadium.

The violence is widely believed to have been driven in part by centuries-old tensions between the country’s two most populous ethnic groups, the Peul and the Malinke.

The United Nations’ top official in West Africa has urged Guinea’s next government to put reconciliation high on the agenda and end the perceived impunity of its notoriously indisciplined army. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

GUINEA ELECTION UPDATE: Another Site for Tracking Results and Voting Problems Have Been Reported

GuineeNews is featuring the module for tracking election results on its home page.  Of course, as of yet, no results have been posted.  (You may wish to check the UFDG site later, as recommended in the previous post, to see if the module has been placed on the site.)

All Guinean websites are reporting calm in Conakry as a large number of voters have turned out for the election.

Alliance Guinea’s Ushahidi site is beginning to receive notice of election day voting problems:

-UPDATE:  GuineeNews is reporting that those displaced as a result of Malinke attacks on Puel, are running into several problems trying to vote in Labe  — election officials tell them they are not authorized to vote.

-Possibly a big problem brewing with not enough ballots at polling stations for the number of voters registered.  For example, in Matoto, one voting station has 865 voters registered but there are only 200 ballots.  Stay tuned.

-In Conakry, there are problems regarding the use of alphanumeric cards versus the receipts for voting.  Today, some voters report that while electoral authorities stated before the election day that  alphanumeric cards were needed to vote, upon arrival at the polls today they were instructed just the opposite —  alphanumeric cards will not be accepted, but receipts are required instead.

-In Mamou, Madina, Ratoma, Soumabossiya there are problems because of incomplete electoral lists.

-Also, problems with lack of voting materials —  such as pens to mark the ballots!  On RFI Afrique this morning, Mme. Camara, Vice-President of the CENI, could be heard castigating poll workers at a voting station concerning the lack of pens.

Guinea Oye! will be back later with further updates.

ECOWAS to Monitor Guinea Run-Off Election

 

ECOWAS to Monitor Guinea Run-Off Election Sunday

Peter Clottey20 October 2010

Guinean general Sekouba Konate (L) 2009 (file photo)
Photo: AFP

Guinean general Sekouba Konate (L) 2009 (file photo)

A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has welcomed the decision by Guinea’s rival parties to support the new chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off vote.

Sonny Ugoh, communications director of ECOWAS, told VOA poll observers from the regional bloc will monitor the twice-delayed vote.

“We are looking forward expectantly to the conclusion of the democratic process in Guinea, so that they can return to constitutional rule and they can join the rest of ECOWAS in pursuing our agenda of socio-economic development.”

Both of Guinea’s two presidential candidates, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, say they are willing to participate in Sunday’s election following the replacement of the election commission chief.

Late Tuesday, the interim military government appointed General Siaka Toumany Sangare of Mali to lead the electoral body ahead of the vote. Sangare has been working in Guinea with an international organization of French-speaking countries.

Diallo had threatened to boycott the vote unless the previous commission chief, Lounceny Camara, was fired. Diallo accused him of favoring his opponent. Conde’s campaign had also threatened to boycott if Camara was replaced.

To resolve the dispute, the government made Camara the co-deputy chairperson of the election commission alongside Diallo supporter Hadja Mame Camara.

Ugoh said the regional bloc is hopeful about the prospects of Guinea’s journey towards constitutional rule.

“We will be sending a team to the round-off. As soon as we can confirm that 24th (October) is on, sure, we will dispatch our team to go and observe the elections. We have a responsibility to follow the elections through to the conclusion.”

Logistical problems, street violence, and the death of an election commissioner have already forced two postponements in the second-round of Guinea’s first multi-party presidential election in more than 50 years.

Diallo won the first round of the presidential election in June with 44 percent. Mr. Conde was second with 18 percent.

Sekouba Konate Appoints a Malian General, Siaka Toumany Sangare, as Electoral Commission President and Lounceny Camara as One of the Veeps!

Information regarding the nationality of the new prez and the fact that Camara was appointed as one of two vice-presidents came from several Guinean websites.  This still leaves Camara as the top Guinean on the CENI.  Stay tuned!

Guinea gets new election chief amid vote paralysis
Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:23pm GMT

CONAKRY Oct 19 (Reuters) – The head of Guinea’s military junta has named a fellow general to take charge of the election commission, paralysed in rows that threatened to delay a planned Oct. 24 presidential vote.

Junta leader General Sekouba Konate named General Siaka Toumany Sangare as the new head of the commission, according to a statement read on television on Tuesday evening.

Sangare replaces Louceny Camara, who had been accused of bias by one of the candidates in a row that paralysed election preparations and led to street violence in the world’s top bauxite producer.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb, writing by David Lewis, editing by Michael Roddy)

Guinea Election Date in Doubt over Electoral Body Dispute – CNN Interviews Cellou Dalein Diallo

Latest Guinea election date in doubt over electoral body dispute
By Joe Penney, For CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    * Diallo’s UFDG party accuses election boss of favoring opponent Conde
    * Diallo has threatened to boycott run-off if election chief stays on
    * Election administrator Camara says dismissal “will never happen”

Conakry, Guinea (CNN) — The latest date for Guinea’s much-delayed second round presidential election is again in doubt because of an internal dispute within the election organizing body, the favored candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo told CNN on Friday in the nation’s seaside capital, Conakry.

The West African republic’s military junta leader, Gen. Sekouba Konate, set the election date — a presidential runoff between two candidates, Diallo and Alpha Conde — for October 24 by decree earlier this month.

The vote would be the country’s most democratic poll in its 52 year history, but it has already been postponed three times because of technical problems, mismanagement and internal disputes.

Members of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the body in charge of organizing the election, are now split along party lines, preventing them from working on technical issues like the distribution of new alphanumeric voting cards before the upcoming election next Sunday.

All CENI members are scheduled to meet with senior government officials Monday in the capital to discuss the electoral crisis, according to state TV.

Twelve of 25 CENI members signed a petition last week to the government demanding the immediate dismissal of the body’s controversial head, Louseny Camara.

“If the CENI is so divided that it cannot do its long-awaited work, it might be difficult to hold elections on the 24th,” Diallo told CNN in an interview at his Conakry residence on Friday.

Diallo won 44 percent of the first round vote, held June 27, while Conde placed second with a little over 18 percent. Any further delay has the potential to spark violence and possibly an army takeover.

Diallo’s UFDG party accuses Camara of being an Conde supporter and of stealing voting ballots from a populous Conakry suburb where Camara served as election administrator in the first round.

Camara has denied the accusations and has said he will not step down, at the same time acknowledging that the October 24 date is in doubt.

“Whoever is waiting for me to be dismissed, it will never happen … the head of state has confidence in me and that is what is essential,” he said.

Camara also said that senior government officials, have been withholding funds allocated to the CENI in order to prevent elections.

“If the elections do not happen on the 24th, it will be because [chief of the central bank] Mr. Alhassan Barry and minister of finance Kerfala Yassan did not let the CENI access its funds,” Camarra added.

Diallo, on the other hand, called on the head of state to replace Camara immediately.

“[Konate] must seek to solve the problem himself … he needs to try to find someone accepted by a consensus,” Diallo said.

Diallo’s party has said it will boycott elections if Camara remains in control of the CENI.

Conde, on the other hand, has said he accepts Camara’s position and has already begun campaigning in the interior of the country.

Guinea, despite its immense mineral wealth, is one of the poorest countries in West Africa. Many investors are waiting for a democratically elected president before they begin resource extraction projects in iron, bauxite, gold, diamonds and oil.

Guinea has been ruled by a military junta since the death of longtime autocrat Lansana Conte in December 2008.