Why Guinea’s Election Crisis Matters by Peter Pham

The Guinean opposition has always enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of Guineans, as evidenced in this 2013 video.

The following article appeared in the April 23, 2015 issue of the US News and World Report. You will not find a better assessment of the dire political situation in Guinea today.  The author, Peter Pham, is to be commended for his research and for parsing out the truth often masked by government disinformation campaigns.

Why Guinea’s Election Crisis Matters
The country is key to maintaining peace and stability in West Africa.

Guinea security forces and protesters on Monday, April 13, 2015.
By J. Peter Pham April 23, 2015 | 11:00 a.m. EDT + More

The international community breathed a collective sigh of relief following the recent presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial elections in Nigeria. Although the competition was the fiercest Nigerians have ever seen and the polls were marred by some irregularities and a few regrettable episodes of violence, the graceful concession of the defeated incumbent president and the magnanimity of his challenger pave the way for next month’s historic peaceful, democratic handover of power in Africa’s most populous country. It is a significant milestone, not only for Nigeria, but for Africa as a whole.
But imagine what would have happened if President Goodluck Jonathan had rigged the election process or simply refused to accept President-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s win at the ballot box? That’s what President Alpha Conde is trying to do in nearby Guinea, a geopolitically sensitive nation in the same West African subregion, where the political upheaval and ethnic conflict being risked could easily spill over into neighboring countries, including Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, all of which are just themselves emerging from prolonged periods of civil strife. Consequently, there is an urgent need for the international community to engage more robustly in Guinea. The good news from Nigeria should not be an excuse for complacency about the prospects for democracy and stability elsewhere in the region.
Moreover, we should not view Guinea merely through the prism of Ebola, despite the efforts of the incumbent president to blame everything on the epidemic of which his country has been the unfortunate epicenter, as he shamelessly did this past week in Washington. Even before the outbreak of deadly disease wreaked havoc with the economy, both urban and rural poverty were increasing during the president’s tenure according to his own finance ministry’s report to the International Monetary Fund. Unable to run on his weak record, Conde, in office since a disputed election in 2010, is using every trick in the book to remain in power. Recently, the regime has been increasingly blatant in rigging the electoral process to ensure that it “wins” the elections scheduled for less than six months from now.
The political opposition realizes that it is being railroaded by the government, which controls the so-called Independent National Electoral Commission. That body has rejiggered the electoral calendar to give an insurmountable advantage to the incumbent president, who has refused to engage in a political dialogue with the opposition for almost a year.
Frustrated by both the government’s intransigence and the international community’s lack of attention, the coalition representing the major opposition parties has taken to the streets to demand free, fair and transparent elections. The peaceful demonstrations, including a massive one planned for this Thursday, have continued despite the regime’s attempts to violently repress them. On Monday, for example, several protesters, including a 15-year-old boy, were wounded when live rounds were fired at them by police.
As a result of these demonstrations, Conde’s government has finally offered to renew dialogue with the opposition. However, Cellou Dalein Diallo, a free-market economist and former prime minister, and other leaders of the opposition coalition have declined to participate in talks with the government until two conditions are met: the pro-government electoral commission must cease to function and be revamped; and the timetable for elections which the commission unilaterally announced must be dropped in favor of one which represents the consensus of all stakeholders. Speaking from Paris on Wednesday, Conde rejected any change to the election timetable.
The preconditions are necessary because opposition leaders do not trust Conde and think that the offer of negotiations is little more than a clever trap, just fruitless dialogue designed to waste time as the electoral clock continues to tick.
The opposition is confident that it has the support of the masses. Of course, it will have to prove that assertion at the polls. But for that to occur, the entire electoral process must be free, fair and transparent. And the process has to begin long before the Oct. 11 date chosen for the presidential vote. The opposition is demanding, quite reasonably, that local elections that Conde has postponed on one pretext or another for more than four years be held before the presidential poll, in accordance with Guinea’s laws as well as the repeated promises of the president himself.
Why is this so important? First, there is no basis in the Guinean constitution for the repeated postponements of these elections and, as a result of them, as both opposition politicians and civil society leaders have pointed out, none of those occupying local government offices – mayors, local council members, ward chiefs, etc. – has a legal mandate. Second, as many observers have noted, the criteria under which these officials have been retained without the consent of their constituents has been their allegiance to the president. Third, these same unelected local officials, dependent as they are upon the incumbent for their livelihood, will be the very people who, at the grassroots level, will not only be determining who can register to vote ahead of the polls and who casts ballots on election day, but will themselves be counting ballots and tabulating results.
Opposition candidates and pro-democracy advocates alike fear, justifiably, based on their experience in the controversial 2010 presidential election from which many reports emerged of fraud, that the process will be corrupted. Thus, these activists have called on the international community, especially the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, France and the United States, to engage more energetically in Guinea to ensure a level playing field for the upcoming local and presidential elections. Deploying foreign observers to monitor polling sites on election day would be too little too late.
Why does Guinea matter? Why should the international community, with so many crises demanding attention, even care? Guinea matters because it constitutes a case of arrested development, a country which has never realized its ambitions despite extraordinary human and natural resources – among other things, it holds two-thirds of the world’s largest reserve of bauxite, and prodigious amounts of gold, diamonds, iron ore, graphite, manganese and other mineral resources – that could make Guinea potentially one of the richest nations in Africa. Alas, since independence in 1958, the country has been run by a series of authoritarian leaders who have ruled from the top down for the benefit of the fortunate few, not for the entire nation. Moreover, without credible elections, Guinea risks plunging into a profound political crisis and, indeed, outright conflict. Ethnic tensions are already being stoked and, in a region whose borders were very recently shown by the rapid spread of the Ebola virus to be all-too-porous, such conflicts will be impossible to contain.
To head off this very real threat, the international community needs to engage now to ensure free, fair and transparent elections yielding credible results acceptable to all Guineans. It not only matters for the people of Guinea, but is critical to maintaining peace, stability, and democratic gains of the entire region.
J. Peter Pham is director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.


Conde Signs Decree to Convene Guinean National Assembly on January 13 (FR-EN)

Link to French version follows directly and the English translation (by Google) follows next.

The National Assembly convenes January 13, 2014

In a decree read tonight on the state media, the President of the Republic shall convene the new National Assembly on the date of January 13, 2014 at 10 am.

Recall that the 114 members of which 53 Rpg-arc-en-ciel, 37 UFDG and 10 UFR were declared elected by the Supreme Court, 15 November 2013.

The final announcement came after the CENI, the organizer of the ballot on September 28, presented the Supreme Court with preliminary tallies.

Now, Guineans and development partners are eagerly awaiting the start of Parliament’s work to end the long transition which began in 2008, following the death of General Lansana Conté and the takeover by the CNDD junta.

B.Abdallah / Aminata.com

UFDG’s Diallo Gathers Party Members to Say “We Need a New Strategy — It’s Probably Not Walking (Marching)” [Audio en FR, Article in FR-EN)

Below is an audio of Cellou’s remarks to party members featuring pics from the gathering.  Following this, is a link to the article in French from Guineenews.  After that, you will find the article translated into English via Google.
COMMENT:  If the opposition doesn’t stay in the streets, it will become virtually invisible.  Hundreds of thousands of people marching is a tangible act.  It sends the message that they reject Conde and his government.  And, even more importantly, it demonstrates that this is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the population, a truth Conde has been trying to cover up for a long time.
Diallo, by taking “walking” off the table, is getting prepared to announce that the UFDG will seat its delegates in the National Assembly.  Sounds like some of this “new strategy” is already decided and comes straight from Said Djinnit’s playbook.
Yes, the opposition needs a new, multi-faceted strategy, but it should be the party’s youth who get the assignment to scope it out.
Stay tuned . . . 

Meeting UFDG: Diallo pours his anger on Alpha Condé

This is a Diallo, visibly angry, who harangued his massively mobilized Saturday at its headquarters in the suburb of Conakry Mining militants. In twenty minutes, the leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), has called for unity to stop the dictatorship in Guinea Has there been on site.

After a minute of silence in memory of two victims of the security forces, the former Prime Minister said indiscretions. “We are told that Alpha Condé has spent thirty million dollars for 99 MPs. He wanted 99 members but thanks to your commitment, he had only 53 members, it is his vision. “

Later, the leader of the UFDG pounds. “We mourn, we lost two of our young people killed for no reason by the police. We are, I believe, 53 th or 54 th young shot by police and gendarmes Guinea with the blessing Alpha Condé. I know you’re frustrated, too, just like the men who love peace and justice. Why so much hatred, so many crimes directed against militants UFDG Why, since until now Zakariaou no serious investigation has been opened translate sponsors and perpetrators to court It is simply because Alpha Condé and his government hate us. They do not want us in Guinea. Otherwise, any other country in the world where we have killed as much, and so arbitrary as a policeman or a gendarme at least, would have been brought before the courts to answer for the crimes. But they will never be arrested because they execute instructions and they know that their impunity is guaranteed. What do we do now? There is still time to think about strategies. past three years, we are fighting for the establishment of democracy, the rule of law and justice in Guinea, and the country that back in terms of human rights, democracy and national reconciliation. should find the best strategy. There are times when one must stop and think, work with the mind. True, today we have a heavy heart, but it should not continue, what to do? Take time for reflection, it is perhaps not walking. What should we do? Because we can not condone the killings. innocents.qui Most are not protesting. As young Bailo Barry, who was beside her telecentre, when the ball of forces pierced his heart, he died on the spot. Why so much hatred, violence against UFDG? 54 dead in two years. Since April 2011, many were killed, not in their streets but in their family. It often tells us to stop marches and dead cities, but Will it give up our right? We have always responded to question rather forces. But it is hatred and desire to destroy UFDG, intimidating its activists discouraged. Because it is the largest political force that now stands against the dictatorship in Guinea. They know that if UFDG is defeated, there is more resistance. And they use all means not only death and intimidation, but the division and the intoxication of youth, we must disapprove. Today, we are the bulwark, the only force that resists against the dictatorship in Guinea. They will do everything to divide us because they are afraid of UFDG. UFDG If he was not there, Alpha Conde have finished installing his dictatorship. Today they decided to divide us, create clans, clans Bah Oury, Cellou Dalein clans, clans Sadakkadji. All this is to divide us because we are the only bulwark. must refuse. If Guinea is spared some things today, it is because there is UFDG, youth is standing. Nevertheless, they hate us, they do not like us but we are respected. When we say No, No . So reject the division. Guinea has on us. Without UFDG, no justice, no democracy. Instead, it is the exclusion and hatred. They are afraid of us, we are a rampart. They killed us, imprisoned, intimidated, beaten and abused. Nowadays, they use the weapon of division because if UFDG is united, Alpha Condé will not go far. If you are divided, you fun Alpha Condé. They fear our unity and our determination and our commitment. Please, we must reject the division. We fought for three years. They say that investors are left because we put the children in the streets. Yet there is no power or water, is misery in homes. Guinea’s people are counting on us. We have no right to disappoint, nor demolish this formidable force that constitutes the unit UFDG. They tried everything, done everything, but we remained united. debauched Saliou Bela They killed fifty young, Bah Oury pushed into exile, while this to discourage us, but we resisted. Today, they want to divide us. should not accept the division. This is the unit that prevents UFDG Alpha Condé sleep. If you break if you break this unit, if you accept that introduce corruption, money and the creation of common X or Y to split UFDG, Guinea will fall to the lowest, and there will be no democracy. So we will lead the reflection to see the right strategy. But beforehand, it is the unity of the UFDG. Do not ruin this formidable and admirable unity that the world respects and fears that Alpha Condé. When we say, we do. We had fear anyone. We received tear gas, bullets, batons. We were imprisoned, tried and convicted. What have we not been in Guinea? Do not that outsiders say we were afraid. We have not been afraid but we fought. All this is the weapon of division. We were always together. I always been at the forefront when it comes to events. They came to attack me at home. This is you young Bambeto who have come to the rescue. prevented You hooligans and police returned in the courtyard, while tear gas rained down in my yard. You exposed your lives, you have prevented the police from entering the family. We all suffered together. should not accept being told we are not courageous. continue the fight, trust management UFDG, we will not back down. But each situation requires reflection. must work with the heart, of course, but with the mind too. “

Opposition Meets with Ambassadors from ECOWAS Countries to Discuss Guinea Political Crisis: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

OPPECOWAS11-27Opposition press conference, after meeting with ECOWAS ambassadors concerning Guinea’s political crisis, 11-27-13  (photo: ufdgonline.org)
Below is a media account from lejourguinee.com of today’s meeting between the opposition and ambassadors of member countries of ECOWAS concerning Guinea’s political crisis. 
The article was translated into English via Google with editing by Guinea Oye.  Further, the article is supplemented with two paragraphs of information (in parentheses) taken from the UFDG website.
Bottom line is:
-ECOWAS ambassadors asked opposition to seat its delegates in the National Assembly
-Sidya Toure wants to reactivate the July 3, 2013 agreement between the opposition and the government and continue to pursue commitments
-Senegalese ambassador is looking for “a framework for dialogue to bring stability and peace to Guinea.”
-Cellou Dalein Diallo reminds gathering that the source of problem is lack of justice in Guinea and a lack of respect for others on the part of the government.
Category: Politics
Published Wednesday, November 27, 2013 8:03 p.m.
Written by Mamadi Touré

Guinea is a sick man among the countries of the subregion. Its socio-political situations worries diplomats in the region. How to get out of this impasse in Guinea which has lasted (almost) five years? This is in response to a question posed when ECOWAS diplomats met this Wednesday, November 27, with key players including the opposition and the Conde administration.

The meeting took place at the seat of the first political party of the opposition (UFDG) located in Miniere.  ECOWAS ambassadors from (Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Angola, led by Mr Alkhaly Fode Soumah, Ambassador of Sierra Leone and dean of the diplomatic corps. Soumah thanked Dean Jean Marie Doré for open collaboration that facilitated this meeting.)  
The focus of the meeting was to try to defuse socio-political situation and try to convince the opposition to sit in the National Assembly.  Recall that the opposition parties rejected the results announced by the CENI and renewed by the Supreme Court elections that declared itself incompetent to decide electoral disputes. It was on November 15.

After several hours off camera, the Ambassador of Senegal in Guinea, designated by his peers as spokesman justified the reasons for  holding the meeting. “Our meeting today, is being held at the headquarters of opposition leaders so that we can find a framework for dialogue and to help bring stability, peace, and appeasement to Guinea,”said  HE Mr. Leopold Diouf.

According to Senegalese diplomat, ambassadors of ECOWAS “could not remain indifferent to what is happening in Guinea.” Asked about conclusions from the meeting, Diouf remained very cautious believing that positive results are expected.

Known for his criticism of the government, the president of the UFR told the press that the meeting with West African diplomats was “a close encounter … Countries around Guinea and who are friends to Guinea felt it was good that they had an exchange with the political class, not only with the opposition but with the ruling party on issues of concern, how to ensure that elections bring a more acceptable result and to consider how the future will unfold. “

Sidya Touré denounced the “denial of justice which [the opposition] was the object of at the Supreme Court.” Continuing, he said that his clan is “concerned for the future” of Guinea. The former Prime Minister also stressed the need to reactivate the agreements of July 3, 2013 obtained under the auspices of the international community.
(Diallo, President of the UFDG and leader of the Republican opposition thanked the collective of African ambassadors for the particular importance they attach to the Guinean situation.  It will reassure the opposition,which is more committed than anyone to peace and democracy, we are also very happy to discuss with brothers and sisters who can understand our problems and propose appropriate solutions.  But we must recognize that Guinea is unjust and disrespects the rights of others which are the sources of conflict.)

Regarding the issue of the National Assembly as to whether or not the opposition will seat delegates, spokesman of the opposition at the meeting, says, “there will be no decision at opposition as we did not get a majority, but a consensus will be needed for the opposition to determine the position.”

Note that this meeting, between the Guinean opposition and the Ambassadors of ECOWAS and friends of Guinea after a dead city day, the opposition mentioned the two dead and twenty wounded.

Mamadi Touré

Guinea: In Communique, Opposition Reiterates What It Reiterated Before –Including Ville Morte Monday and No Decision on Seats in the Assembly

Below is the latest communique from the opposition.  If you wish to read the French version, click on the link below.

sam, 23 nov 2013, 14:49 

Journée ville morte à Conakry : l’opposition guinéenne formalise sept décisions.

Translated into English via Google.

Ghost town in Conakry day: the Guinean opposition formalized seven decisions.

Political members of the Republican opposition parties came together to harmonize their positions on issues relating to legislation on 28 September 2013. They took the opportunity to issue a statement on seven points, Has said Saturday in a statement.
1 – Opposition condemns become recurrent abuses suffered by unarmed demonstrators by the security forces who enjoy total impunity in their missions repression. During these brutal actions, they do not hesitate to use weapons of war to provide services for maintaining order with as corollary of heavy balance sheets resulting in many deaths and gunshot wounds. Opposition deplores their latest crackdown has resulted in the death of a young citizen 15 years hit by a bullet during a protest in Cosa, in the commune of Ratoma and injuries to a dozen other young people from the same neighborhood;

2 – opposition deplores the violence against journalists are regularly in the exercise of their noble profession. It condemns molestage a journalist by members of the Presidential Guard, during an official ceremony and the attempted abduction by strangers of the director of a private radio;

3 – The opposition confirms its determination to enter supranational courts in order to assert these rights, under the resolution of electoral disputes arising recent elections;

4 – The opposition decided to inform the Secretary General of the United Nations a complete dossier highlighting fraud, serious shortcomings and gaps that have affected the election, thus removing him credibility and transparency expected;

5 – The Republican opposition acknowledges the dissolution of the Committee monitoring the implementation of the inter-Guinean political agreement of 3 July 2013 and regrets the lack of a framework for dialogue between the government and the opposition. So she wants to create a new framework for dialogue between the presidential camp and the Government on the one hand and the opposition, on the other hand, with the participation of representatives of the international community. Such a structure could, among other tasks, to follow up the implementation of the provisions of the agreement of July 3 last not yet executed;

6 – Opposition challenges to the next plenary debate on the question of its future participation in the National Assembly, the process of internal consultation initiated by some political parties are not at an end. An extension has been granted for that consensus is achieved within each political party before a meeting of the Republican opposition to define a common position regarding its participation or boycott the future parliament. The Republican opposition reiterates its determination to preserve its unity and cohesion usual to make the ultimate decision adopted in the coming days, a common position shared by all member parties;

7 – To protest against the resignation of the Supreme Court, which is self-challenged publicly expressing his incompetence to deal with appeals by political parties in the electoral disputes, Republican opposition decides to make Monday, November 25 2013 , a ghost town in the five communes of Conakry day. She called the people of the capital to refrain from any activity that day to protest against the serious institutional crisis created by the resignation of the Supreme Court and its refusal to resolve electoral disputes as there oblige the Constitution and the Code election;

The Republican opposition invites its members and supporters to respond massively to its slogan of dead city for the day of November 25 next while remaining mobilized to defend the democratic gains of the People of Guinea.

Opposition Statement Provides More Details on Letter to Ban ki-moon, Monitoring Mission, Upcoming Elections,”Dead City” Day, and Whether to Seat Delegates at the National Assembly

Aboubacar Sylla, spokesperson of the opposition, read a statement this afternoon which provides more information on topics announced earlier in the day.  This is an excerpt.  If you wish to read this in French, please click on the link below.  Further below is the English version via Google and a bit of editing by Guinea Oye.
The Spokesperson of the Opposition: “ Our common position is to wait, some parties are not ready”
With respect to elections of September 28 we decided to enter the United Nations, inform the Secretary General of the United Nations in a letter which we reaffirm our refusal to accept the rigged elections, we reaffirm all fraud, all the imperfections, we remember everything that these elections have provided for us a real sham election and we attach to this letter provided sufficient documentation to attest to the truth of our accusations. This letter will also be sent to the African Union, ECOWAS and the European Union.

We also decided to send a letter to the authorities to take note of the end of the mission of the Monitoring Committee of the Agreement of 3 July 2013. We noted in effect that the cessation of its activities comes at a time when many provisions under the Agreement of 3 July have not been executed.

We want a permanent framework for dialogue to be established under the auspices of the international community to continue to place the provisions of the Agreement of July 3, including issues related to municipal and community elections to be held in principle before the end of the first quarter of 2014 and the presidential election in 2015 through change of technical operator, the recruitment of a new operator on the basis of international competition.

There are also many as you know obligations were subject to the authorities but not yet implemented, it is the neutrality of public administration, access to state media public service all currents of thought and opinion, compensation of those who were victims of the events that we have experienced in recent months in Guinea.

We also decided to organize a day ghost town next Monday, November 25. We therefore call on all people of Conakry to observe this day a day ghost town to protest against the resignation of the Supreme Court and the fact that this institution declares itself incompetent to judge electoral disputes, making our country the only country in the world where no recourse to electoral disputes can  be examined. 
We proposed to define our position with respect to our participation or not in the national assembly. As you know we had asked to see our respective bases for all political parties on the basis of consensus to consult with their different structures and arrive at a consensus decision. It is at the present day the work is not yet complete, it is a process of bringing ideas that sometimes takes time and some political parties have said they are not yet ready and cannot state their position on this important issue. So we postponed to the next day the decision on the participation or not of the Republican opposition to the next National Assembly. 

Guinea Opposition Postpones Decision on Whether to Seat Their Delegates Until Tomorrow, But Unveils Plans for a “Dead City” Day – 11-25, and Decides to Challenge UN in Letter to Sec-Gen Ban ki-moon

Africaguinee is reporting that the opposition asks supporters and sympathizers to observe a “ville morte” on November 25.  A “dead city day” is when shops are asked to close, people are asked to stay home and no traffic on the streets.  This is not a call for a demonstration, but might evolve into one.  Generally, over the last few years, dead city days have not been particularly successful.  The opposition best shows its strength and determination to persevere when several thousand supporters are in the streets.

In addition, the opposition has determined that it will challenge the UN, presumably for turning a blind eye to every lousy thing the government and the CENI did to steal the legislative election of September 28, and is formulating a letter to Secretary-General Ban ki-moon.
Still no decision on whether to seat its delegates or boycott the national assembly altogether.  The opposition says it needs more time to consider options, but hopes to have a decision by tomorrow.
Stay tuned . . .