Guinea’s Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for US Policy

Guinea’s Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy

Alexis Arieff

Analyst in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service.
101 Independence Avenue, SE. Washington, DC. 20540 USA

    A “government of national unity” was formed in Guinea on January 15, 2010, a year after a military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took power in a coup d’état. While the CNDD has not been dissolved, it has agreed to share power with civilian opposition groups in the lead-up to presidential elections, scheduled for June 27, 2010. Defense Minister Sekouba Konate has assumed executive power as interim president, while opposition spokesman Jean-Marie Doré was named prime minister.
    The formation of a unity government followed six weeks of political uncertainty after CNDD President Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in December 2009 by a member of his personal guard and evacuated for medical treatment. The appointment of the unity government has temporarily stemmed international concerns over political instability in Guinea and its potential spillover into fragile neighboring countries, such as Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. However, concerns remain over the political will to hold elections, impunity and disorder among the security forces, and the potential for “spoilers” to disrupt Guinea’s long-awaited transition to civilian rule.
    The United States, which had been highly critical of Dadis Camara’s erratic leadership, has expressed support for Guinea’s transitional government. At the same time, certain restrictions on U.S. bilateral assistance and targeted travel restrictions against CNDD members and others remain in place. As electoral preparations advance, a number of issues will confront U.S. policy. These include U.S. relations with the Guinean government; the status of U.S. assistance and travel restrictions on CNDD members; the monitoring of progress toward elections; U.S. policy toward a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of alleged CNDD human rights abuses; and potential U.S. support for security sector reform in Guinea.
    The 111th Congress continues to monitor events in Guinea and the potential for regional destabilization. Recent legislation includes H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen), a bill condemning the violent suppression of legitimate political dissent and gross human rights abuses in the Republic of Guinea, introduced on January 13, 2010, and passed by the House on January 20, 2010; and S.Res. 345 (Boxer), a resolution deploring the rape and assault of women in Guinea and the killing of political protesters on September 28, 2009, introduced on November 9, 2009, and passed by the Senate on February 22, 2010. For further background on Guinea and issues for U.S. policy, see CRS Report R40703, Guinea’s 2008 Military Coup and Relations with the United States.


    * Background
    * The Ouagadougou Declaration
    * Congressional Interest
    * The Government of National Unity
    * U.S. and Other International Reactions
    * Issues for U.S. Policy
    * Bilateral Relations with the Transitional Government
    * Aid Restrictions
    * Travel Restrictions
    * Progress Toward Elections
    * Potential International Criminal Court Investigation
    * Security Sector Reform
    * Guinea’s Security Forces: Key Challenges
    * Potential Challenges
    * Outlook


On December 23, 2008, a military junta calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power in Guinea following the death of longtime President Lansana Conté. A previously little-known army officer, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, was named president. The CNDD dissolved the constitution and legislature, appointed a civilian prime minister, and promised to hold presidential and legislative elections. However, elections were repeatedly postponed, while Dadis Camara’s erratic leadership sparked increasing civilian unrest and concerns that military fragmentation could lead to violence. On September 28, 2009, Guinean security forces opened fire on civilian demonstrators in Conakry who were protesting the CNDD and Dadis Camara’s implied intention to run for president, killing over 150 and injuring many more. The crackdown, which was accompanied by reports of widespread military abuses against civilians, sparked fierce international condemnation, including from the United States.
On December 3, 2009, Dadis Camara was shot and wounded in the head by a member of his presidential guard. He was evacuated to Morocco for medical treatment. On January 12, 2010, he was unexpectedly flown to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, whose president, Blaise Compaoré, had earlier been appointed the regional mediator in Guinea’s political crisis by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In Dadis Camara’s absence, the CNDD defense minister, Brig. Gen. Sekouba Konaté, informally assumed the position of acting head of state. However, uncertainty remained over Konaté’s authorities, the extent of Dadis Camara’s injuries, and the future leadership of the country. The power vacuum coincided with reports of rising ethnic tensions, the reported recruitment of militia groups by various factions, and instability within the CNDD and wider armed forces. Fears of imminent conflict caused some Guineans, human rights groups, and diplomats to call for a regional intervention force 2.

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Guinea Election Campaign to Open on May 17

Guinea election campaign to open on 17 May

Conakry, Guinea – The campaign for the first round of the 27 June presidential election in Guinea will be from 17 May to 26 June, according to a decree from the country’s ruling National Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CNDD).

General Sékouba Konaté, Acting CNDD leader, reaffirmed his commitment to hold presidential election on 27 June as proposed by the country’s national independent electoral commission (CENI) when he received a report on the reorganization of the armed forces.

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Public Affairs and CENI recently issued a joint statement announcing that voting cards would soon be printed and distributed.

CENI plans to hold a second ballot 15 days after 27 June in case no candidate ob tains an absolute majority in the first round.

Conakry – Pana 08/05/2010

Guinean PM Accuses the Ruling Party, CNDD, of Embezzlement

Guinean PM accuses CNDD of embezzlement

Conakry – Pana 29/04/2010

Conakry, Guinea – In his first press conference since being appointed in February, Guinean Prime Minister, Jean Marie Dore, revealed Wednesday that the country’s domestic debt between 2008 and 2009 was about GF 4,000 billion (CFA 4 billion), due to “bad and calamitous management” of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD, ruling party).

The Prime Minister strongly criticized the management of state funds by the former ruling team, the CNDD, then headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who withdrew from public life since his aide, Lieutenant Aboubacar Touma Diakhite, attempted to kill him on 3 December, 2009.

“CNDD put the country on its stomach, while Lansana Conte’s regime had put Guinea to its knees,” Dore said, noting that his team, which was put in place at the conclusion of the Ouagadougou agreements on 15 January, was doing its best despite the scarcity of funds in the country.

According to him, Guinea, which is in urgent need of funds, must sign contracts with mining investors, even if these documents could be improved later “for the happiness of Guinean people.

“I hope the mineral resources of Guinea will enable the country become, in the next 10 years, an emerging country,” said Dore, adding that he had urged the Minister of Mining, Mahmoud Thiam, to sign, with the US company, Hyperdynamics, an agreement on oil exploration in a block of the continental plateau.

The Guinean sub-soil, according to several studies, contains, in addition to the strong quantity of bauxite and iron, oil, copper, diamonds, gold, among others.

“As head of government, I trust this company because the Americans came to our rescue several times (…) I haven’t touched any penny when signing the contract, I think this could be improved because there is no perfect contract in this area,” he said.

“We recall that a recent mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) drew the attention of the authorities to many shortcomings, including bad management that might plunge the country into dangerous situations which might result in serious consequences,” he said.

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Has Lots to Say About Guinea

Sierra Leone is satisfied with the latest political developments in Guinea : Says Ambassador Adekalie Foday Suma

Written by COCORIOKO’S ROVING REPORTER JOSEPH KAMANDA Monday, 26 April 2010 16:17

As the West African state of Guinea is moving gradually to restore a democratically elected government in the country, Sierra Leone ‘s Ambassador here, H.E. Foday Adikalie Suma,  has so far expressed his country’s satisfaction with the fast pace at which the transitional process is moving ahead. This commendation was recently made in an interview with COCORIOKO in the Guinean capital Conakry,during which Ambassador Suma  observed that Sierra Leone was fairly pleased with the on-going transitional process in the country. 

Although the political build-up towards the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for June this year appeared to be relatively peaceful, the Sierra Leonean diplomat said as a sub-regional counterpart in both the Manor River Union and the Economic Community of West African States, Sierra Leone government back home in Freetown in partnership with member states would continue to engage partners to ensure that nothing happens in Guinea.

Asked what Sierra Leone as a country is capable of offering to restore a civilian democratically elected government to Guinea, Ambassador Sumah said; “well we can offer cordial advice to the head of the transitional government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are now looking at close- border activities wherein political parties in Guinea will be able to benefit from Sierra Leonean political parties through experience sharing sessions”. This will entail Guinea emulating the peaceful and fairly conducted 2007 elections

He disclosed that the Guinean transitional authority do take the advice from other countries but pay more attention to whatever advise or suggestions that comes from the Sierra Leone mission in Guinea and the government back home.

On the proliferation of political parties Ambassador Sumah  observed that the electoral strength of Guinea is not commensurate to the number of political parties and their flag bearers who have so far thrown their hats in the ring to battle for the presidency

Guinea, he continued,  has so many political parties and  all are characterized by tribal divisions following the death of late president Lansana Conte’ which is why the International Contact Group on Guinea-the United Nations, African Union the Economic Community of West Africa States and the Mano River Union have set aside funds for the conduct of Guinean presidential elections. He pointed out that Guinean authorities have also honoured their part of the funding aspect for the upcoming elections.

Since the army has been so prominent in Guinean politics right from the reign of late president Sekou Toure, Ambassador Sumah said this time the Council for National Development and Democracy (CNDD) junta members will not take part in the election come June this year. This is among multiple reasons that the transitional government is composed of thirty-four members including CNDD members.

Responding further to the question of why the transitional government is too large, the Sierra Leonean diplomat said that the transitional process requires the involvement every citizenry in Guinea, reiterating, that ‘they want to make provision for all members in Guinean politics’.

Ambassador Sumah described the current atmosphere in the country as  one with a high political fever saying that wherever one goes he or she will be greeted with colours of political parties, handbills of presidential and parliamentary candidates and beat-gun rallies in the guise of sensitization right across Guinea.

Asked what positive impact will the return of democratic rule to Guinea have on neighboring Sierra Leone, Ambassador Sumah said  that the need for the return of total peace, good governance and stability was imperative to  Guinea as well as the AU, ECOWAS, UN, MRU and other members of the International Contact Group on Guinea, who  are busy engaging key players in the transitional process to ensure that peace triumphantly returns to Guinea through the ballot box.

What about if the army steps in again ? The Ambassador  responded with a question :  “Who will embrace them?” . He stated  that the wind of  democratic change that is now blowing in Africa has no room for military juntas. The ex-junta leader Captain Mousa Dadis Camara is not under any arrest but he has been in Burkina Faso as a guest of President Blasé Campore, who is serving as a key mediator in the Guinean political transitional process.

The Ambassador said that the absence of Captain Camara
from the political scene of the country  has moved Guinea forward, and
the majority of Guineans now believe that this is the time for Guinea
to regain the confidence of the international community by lifting the
profile of their country through the upcoming elections which will be
followed by the reformation of the Guinean army

Guinea Army’s New Chief of Staff Wants Military Order: Seeks to Undo “Swap” of Green Berets for Red Berets

Guinea’s new chief of staff set to restore order in army

APA-Conakry (Guinea) The new chief of staff of the Guinean army, Colonel Nouhou Thiam, a member of the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), asked the military to join their original units at risk of being removed permanently from the army when touring various military garrisons.

Colonel Thiam wants to end the anarchy that characterized the running of the Defense and Security Forces in Guinea, where many soldiers had swapped their green berets and other uniforms for red berets since the advent of the ruling junta.

Each soldier wishes to act as a member of the Autonomous Airborne Battalion (BATA, red berets), the elite corps of the Guinean army which are the brains behind the 23 December 2008 coup, including Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and General Sekouba Konate.

The disorder was such that some soldiers no longer waited to be posted at the BATA, as they were simply moving to the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp, the headquarters of the junta.

Another issue is the recruitments made by the junta, based on criteria that border favoritism.

The Defense and Security Forces services are estimated at nearly 30,000.

The UN mission in charge of restructuring the Guinean army has much to do to rectify this situation that has gone on too long already, people in Conakry told APA.

Guinea Military Junta Uses Former Pentagon Officials to Polish Image

The following post contains two parts.  The first is a brief article from Harpers’ magazine that is based on an original article from Africa Confidential. The second part is a brief preview of the original article from the Africa Confidential website and “post tags” that may be of particular interest — unfortunately the full article is only available through subscription.



The Upside of Guinea Massacre

By Ken Silverstein

From Africa Confidential:

    Blamed for the massacre of over 100 civilians last September, the junta in Conakry is trying to improve its image via a United States-based public relations company run by two former Department of Defense officials. David Crane, who was the first Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone before his departure in 2005, has made a surprise return to West Africa as a consultant to Guinea’s embattled military junta.

    Crane, together with the Special Court’s former Chief Investigator, fellow US citizen Alan White, has set up a consultancy called CW Group International. According to a copy of a report written by CW Group International obtained by Africa Confidential, the Guinean government engaged its services on 15 October 2009, some three weeks after the 28 September massacre at Conakry’s national sports stadium that brought international notoriety to the [government]. The agreement was for CW Group to conduct “a confidential investigation into the recent allegations of shootings and sexual assaults” at the stadium…

In its report, CW doubts that there are grounds for international legal action against the perpetrators of the stadium killings. There can be no question of war crimes since these events were not part of an internal or international armed conflict, they note.


The original article can be found at Africa Confidential, but through subscription only.  Below is a brief  preview of the article from the Africa Confidential website and  associated “post tags” which may be of particular interest.

FRIDAY 19th February 2010

Vol 51 N0 4

Subscription Required

The Junta Explains

The putschists use former Pentagon officials to polish their image

Blamed for the massacre of over 100 civilians last September, the junta in Conakry is trying to improve its image via a United States-based public relations company run by two former Department of Defense (DOD) officials. David Crane, who was the first Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone before his departure in 2005, has made a surprise return to West Africa as a consultant to Guinea’s embattled military junta, the Conseil National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (CNDD).  
Article Tags:
United States, David Crane, Sierra Leone, Alan White, Moussa Dadis Camara, Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, Toumba, Moussa Tiegboro Camara, Siriman Kouyaté, Liberian, Charles Ghankay Taylor, Brenda Hollis, Nicholas Koumjian, Nigeria, Lansana Conté, Herman Cohen, Jim Woods, Conseil National pour la Démocratie et le Développement, Africa Confidential, Radio France Internationale, Impunity Watch

DORE Interview: “I Will Work with Military”

Guinea – exclusive Jean-Marie Doré interview

I will work with military, says interim PM

RFI-Article published on the 2010-01-21 Latest update 2010-01-21 15:01 TU

Jean-Marie Doré(Photo: AFP)Jean-Marie Doré
(Photo: AFP)
Jean-Marie Doré, who has been named interim Prime Minister of Guinea, tells RFI that he is ready to work with the members of the military junta in order to form a government. Although he has been a persistent critic of the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), he praises current leader Sékouba Konaté.

“A military regime is one thing; the intrinsic value of each officer is another. Sékouba Konaté is an officer of valour,” Doré told RFI, referring to the interim President, who took over after junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded in an assassination attempt.

“I do not think the issue of rejecting the military can be applied generally to Sékouba Konaté.”

He praises Konaté for going above and beyond what was asked of him to “lift Guinea out of its ruins and its descent into hell”.

Doré was named interim Prime Minister after an agreement brokered by Burkina Fasso in which the ruling junta agreed to elections in six months.

He would not comment on the make-up of his government, which according to Konaté spokesperson Idriss Cherif will consist of 30 people, with ten from the CNDD, ten from the opposition and ten from the four regions of Guinea.

Doré says he is not aware of how the positions would be divided, nor does he know who will get what portfolios.

The post of Prime Minister does not exist in the Guinean constitution, and Doré’s position is not secure.

“We are in a transition period, which means we have to invent everything as we go along,” he says, adding that whatever is decided will be included in the constitution.

Part of the agreement stipulates that no member of the military government can run for President, though it is not clear what would happen if a junta member resigned from the military before running.

Doré would not comment on whether a former member of the CNDD should be allowed to run or not, nor would he say whether or not he himself would run.