GUINEA: Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde and Human Rights Groups Ignoring His Human Rights Abuses

Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde
 
Alpha Conde has a pretty good communications team as well as experts from an image consulting firm, who have combined forces to give him a new face to present to the world.  The goal of this re-invention of Guinea’s head of state is to make him appear more “presidential,” to re-brand him as a mining “reformer” and “corruption” fighter and, perhaps most importantantly, to conceal his  terrible human rights record and his deadly policy of targeting those of the Peul ethnic group.  Based on international media coverage Conde has received of late, it’s working.
 
Tony Blair and George Soros, have been instrumental in gaining access for Conde to both political high rollers and influential business people and his communications team have the pictures to prove it.  The invitation he received to the UK for a G-8 Transparency, Trade, and Tax Committee meeting in June, was close enough for his communications people to issue breathless press releases announcing that “Conde is Heading to the G-8 Summit!”  Suffice it to say, Conde never made it to Northern Ireland where the actual G-8 summit was held, but because of the press statements, many believed he did and, in the world of propaganda, this is all that counts. 
 
Conde capitalized on his “proximity” to the G-8 Summit by doing several interviews set up by his image consulting firm.  Suddenly, Conde’s face was everywhere — Great Britain’s Independent Television Network (ITN), Radio France Internationale, and the cover of Jeune Afrique.  He also had an op-ed piece, obviously penned by his image consultants, which made the rounds of all major  international media outlets.  The newfound mining “reformer,” increased journalists fascination with Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project as did the billionaire diamond merchant, Beny Steinmetz, and his shell game to gain control over a part of the iron ore field.  The story was all the more intriguing because of alleged bribes made by Steinmetz to the wife of dying president, Lansana Conte, in order to seal the deal. 
 
And, over the last month, this is how Simandou became the ONLY story journalists pursued concerning Guinea and Conde.  This happened to the virtual exclusion of Conde’s poor management of the country, his ethnic baiting policies which have raised tensions to an all time high, and relentless violent repression meted out by his security forces against opposition supporters. With these kinds of problems festering in Guinea and on the horizon, fraudulent legislative elections likely to cause a civil war, Conde’s image consultants have done a masterful job keeping the press’ attention focused on Simandou, the diamond dealer and the “reformer.”
 
 
Ever since the G-8 Summit, sans Conde,, he and his image makers have continued to score points in the media. One of the best examples is a lengthy article in the “New Yorker” magazine entitled, “Buried Secrets.” The article, by Patrick Keefe, is a corruption thriller in which Beny Steinmetz is the bad billionaire and Alpha Conde is the last man standing to defend Guinea against seemy mining titans and grifters.  
 
When Keefe interviewed Steinmetz he spent most of time trying to get Steinmetz to admit he’s a crook.  Later in the interview an interesting topic surfaces.  Steinmetz raises the issue of Conde’s dreadful human rights record and suggests he has blood on his hands.  Any reporter worth his salt would have said “tell me more,” but Keefe stopped Steinmentz in his tracks and said, “Dadis Camara had blood on his hands, too, yet you invited him to your daughter’s wedding in Israel.”  Most would agree that Keefe’s cloak and dagger thriller would have been infinitely more thrilling had he allowed Steinmetz to talk.  After all, Steinmetz has close ties with Israeli intelligence services which surely have a file of some kind on Conde.  But, Keefe was having none of it.  What journalist would close such a door?  Perhaps, a journalist who is writing an article about a “reformer” expressly for the purpose of covering significant human rights abuses.  
 
The full court press among journalists to re-invent Conde will be around for a while and what is needed are a few good investigative reporters to dig for the evidence about Conde’s theft of the 2010 election and his mounting human rights violations.  Now, a story like that would be far more intriguing than Conde, the “reformer.”  Who knows, someone might win a Pulitzer prize for daring to write the story that others would not. 
 
As you might guess, Keefe was loyal to Conde until the bitter end of his article.  The scene is set with Conde slumped in a big chair at the presidential palace contemplating Guinea’s tricky world of mining and then he muses out loud, “How can we be so rich and yet so poor?”  Only the poor can ask a question such as this.  Conde understands well why the poor have not benefited from the natural resources in the country.  For him to feign ignorance about this is the ultimate insult. 
 
 
Human Rights Groups Ignoring Conde’s Human Rights Abuses
 
NOTE:  The following is written about Human Rights Watch specifically, but criticisms made apply to several international human rights organizations which are significantly less vocal about Alpha Conde’s human rights abuses than they were two years ago, yet today’s state repression and violence are far worse than then.
 
Recently, Claude Pivi, Minister of Presidential Security, was summoned to appear before a Guinean court to answer questions about his involvement in the September 28, 2009, massacre against opposition demonstrators in a stadium in Conakry.   Pivi is long thought to be one of the primary perpetrators of the attack.  Human Rights Watch was one of the first organizations on the ground after the attack to conduct an investigation and to hold interviews with victims.  HRW’s relentless pursuit of truth and justice in the 2009 attack is one of the few rays of hope for victims and their families.  Guinea Oye has repeatedly applauded HRW’s efforts over the last four years to keep pressure on the Guinean court system and Alpha Conde, himself, to make sure the country is responsive to the need to move forward with indictments of those responsible.  An HRW press statement, issued last week, addresses Pivi’s questioning before the court.
 
HRW makes an interesting request in its statement concerning Pivi, whom HRW has long asked Alpha Conde to remove from his cabinet.  The statement asks “Guinean officials” to put Pivi on leave from his post as Minister for Presidential Security while under court inquiry, because of concern that he will use his cabinet level position to exert undue influence on the investigation.  “Guinean officials?”  Anyone in particular?  As a member of the Guinean cabinet, there is only one person who can make Claude Pivi do anything — Alpha Conde.  Why didn’t HRW address Conde directly in its press statement and ask him to do the deed?  There was a time when HRW had no qualms about calling out Alpha Conde on a variety of things, including Guinea’s lack of progress on the September 28 case and his own dismal human rights record.  Why is HRW disassociating Conde from his Minister of Presidential Security?  
 
The most recent news from Guinea is that Alpha Conde has interceded on Pivi’s behalf to get a postponement (indefinite?) of his questioning before the court.  Where is a new statement from HRW calling out Conde for interfering in Pivi’s case by getting his court appearance postponed?
 
If one takes a few steps back, Conde’s behavior concerning Pivi is strange.  Allowing Pivi to remain in his cabinet, claiming repeatedly that Pivi was not at the stadium on the day of the attack and helping him get away from court questioning demonstrates bad judgment on his part, especially for someone who is re-inventing himself.  In any event, their relationship is highly suspect and maybe one of those investigative reporters will dig deeply enough to reveal it.
 
In a recent post, Guinea Oye took particular note of HRW’s odd and prolonged silence concerning human rights abuses which have taken place over the last six months in Guinea.  These abuses run the gamut from extrajudicial killings to rape to mutulation to burning of homes and businesses to arbitrary arrests and all manner of anti-Peul repression.  Not only have state forces been involved in this violence but also Malinke militias, Donzos (mercenaries) and gangs paid for by Conde’s party, the RPG.  Further, HRW has made no comment about a state forces attack on the home of opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, in which his life was threatened.  Diallo ran against Conde and won the final round of the 2010 presidential election which Conde then stole. The state-sponsored violence committed in the first six months of 2013 mirrors that of what happened in 2009.  HRW’s silence on the latest violence in Guinean is disheartening and puzzling.
 
The close focus by human rights organizations on the the September 28 massacre and the lack of focus on the 2013 violence suggests that the international community’s perceptions about one human rights abuser– Dadis Camara — are quite different from those about another human rights abuser –Alpha Conde.  Anything that could be done to get Camara a one-way ticket out of Guinea was fine.  Courtesy of a bullet to the head, Camara is now in exile in Burkina Faso.  Within the last year, the international community has nearly stood on its head to clean up, cover up, and re-invent Conde to keep him in office.  A shift of focus away from Conde took place in several human rights groups roughly in the same time frame and it is not coincidental.  While a spruced up Conde may be helping an influx of business investors in Guinea, the fact that he is still at the helm of the country is an insult to the people of Guinea.
 
Re-inventing Conde or going silent about his gross human rights abuses may appease an international community desperate to hold legislative elections so it can proclaim Guinea a  “democracy.”  It is the politicians and diplomats who manipulate facts and factors in order to bring about desired results.  Such manipulations can change a country in an instant, as evidenced by Conde’s theft of the 2010 presidential election.
 
So, it is the journalists and the human rights organizations which must play it straight, tell it like it is and carry the banner for the victims of repression.  Falling in line with politicians and diplomats strips organizations of their credibility and, most importantly, it leaves those most vulnerable without a voice.
 
 
  
Human Rights Watch Statement
 

(Nairobi) – Guinea’s domestic panel of judges investigating the country’s 2009 stadium massacre and rapes has taken a significant step in charging a high-level suspect, who is expected to be questioned by the judges on July 4. Given the potential for interference with the investigation, the government should place the suspect on leave and take additional measures to protect judges, witnesses, and victims.

The suspect, Lt. Col. Claude “Coplan” Pivi, is Guinea’s minister for presidential security, a position he also held at the time of the 2009 crimes. Media reports said that Pivi was charged with murder, rape, arson, looting, destruction of buildings, and complicity. Consistent with international law, Pivi is presumed innocent unless tried and proven guilty.

“The judges took a major step for justice for the 2009 stadium massacre and rapes by filing charges against an influential, high-level official,” said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel with Human Rights Watch. “Now Guinean officials need to show their commitment to justice by putting Pivi on leave so he won’t be in a position to influence the investigation.”

Pivi appeared before the judges briefly on June 28, 2013, during which time they notified him that charges had been filed. Pivi is expected to appear before the judges again on July 4, for questioning.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the 2009 crimes and closely followed the investigation. On September 28, 2009, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces burst into a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and opened fire on tens of thousands of opposition supporters peacefully gathered there. By late afternoon, at least 150 Guineans lay dead or dying, and dozens of women had suffered brutal sexual violence, including individual and gang rape.

Human Rights Watch, a United Nations-supported International Commission of Inquiry, and other independent human rights organizations identified Pivi as someone whose possible role in the crimes should be investigated.

“The sensitive nature of charging such a high-ranking officer brings increased risk for judges, witnesses, and victims alike,” Keppler said. “The Guinean authorities need to ensure the judges, witnesses, and victims are protected against threats.”

The panel of judges has made important progress in the investigation. They have interviewed more than 200 victims and charged at least 8 people, including Pivi and other high-ranking military officers.

Others charged include Guinea’s minister in charge of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara, and Col. Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, the health minister at the time.Another key suspect the judges have charged, Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakité, remains at large.

However, the investigation has been plagued by lack of material support and concerns about security for the judges. The investigation has yet to be completed nearly four years later. Some suspects have already been in pretrial detention longer than the two years permitted by Guinean law.

Human Rights Watch, in December 2012, identified several key benchmarks the Guinean government should meet to support the panel to complete its investigation. They include ensuring the judges have adequate resources and security; establishing a witness and victim protection program; and resolving a two-year-old request to the government of Burkina Faso to interview Guinea’s former president, Dadis Camara, who is living in that country.

The report also urged the government to place suspects on leave from government posts – namely Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara and Lieutenant Colonel Pivi – where there is a risk they could interfere with the investigation. This is especially important given the prominent role members of the military have played in Guinean society.

On October 14, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor confirmed that the situation in Guinea was under preliminary examination – a step that may or may not lead to the opening of an investigation. The ICC has closely monitored the situation and played a pivotal role in keeping accountability on the government’s agenda, and fostering progress by regularly visiting Guinea and talking with the local media.

“Victims in Guinea are desperate to see justice for the heinous crimes of September 28, 2009, and the days immediately following,” Keppler said. “Fair investigation and prosecution are essential to bring redress to the victims and to signal a definitive end to longstanding impunity for abuses by members of the security services.”

Advertisements

HR Groups, FIDH-OGDH Call Charge of Claude Pivi For Sept. 28 Crimes, “A Big Step for Guinean Justice”

claudepivi1Claude Pivi, in Battle Dress

Guineastadium9-28-09, Opposition supporters gathered for a rally at stadium when state security accompanied by foreign mercenaries closed exits and began shooting, stabbing and raping

[Article translated into English via Google with editing by Guinea Oye]
Posted on June 28, 2013

Paris, Conakry, June 28, 2013 – Colonel Claude Pivi, head of presidential security, was formally charged yesterday by the judges in charge of the case on 28 September 2009. The day before, the General Ibrahima Balde, High Commander of the Gendarmerie was heard as a witness. Our organizations welcome this judicial advanced as expected by the civil parties than important for the judicial process and the Guinean justice.

The three judges assigned to investigate, since 1 February 2010, the case of September 28, indicted Colonel Claude Pivi for his role in the events at the stadium in Conakry, where at least 157 people were killed, and hundreds of women were raped. Mr. Pivi must now be heard on its merits, starting next week.

“Since the beginning of the investigation, the victims we assist in this procedure Claude Pivi feared that, due to his duties and his place in the military hierarchy, to escape justice. Yesterday, the judges have made a first response formally charging them. Mr. Pivi is innocent and he will now be able to prepare his defense, but it’s a first victory for the plaintiffs and more broadly in the fight against impunity in Guinea, “said Thierno Sow, president of the OGDH .

Claude Pivi was appointed Minister of Presidential Security by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the military junta in Guinea between December 2008 and January 2010. Since then it has been kept at the head of this elite unit, he still heads today. According to the report of the International Commission of Inquiry set up after the fact, Mr. Claude Pivi was among those who “could be held criminally responsible for their involvement in the events of September 28 and the following days.”

GUINEA16In the days after the massacre at the stadium, Guineans search for dead relatives

Our organizations, a civil action in this case, the judges have sent items including sending the presence and potential liability of Mr. Pivi in ​​fact a very serious near the stadium and in various districts of Conakry, in the day September 28 and the days that followed.

FIDH OGDH the AVIPA and AFADIS who met the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague in May 2013 had expressed concern at some sluggishness in the judicial system, and relayed the growing impatience of the victims, nearly 4 years after the fact. The International Criminal Court, which placed the preliminary analysis in Guinea after the events of the stadium, led an eighth mission in Conakry in early June to assess the progress of the investigation and make recommendations.

“This case is an opportunity for the Guinean court to try those responsible for serious violations of human rights. The Guinea must seize this opportunity to restore victims’ rights and to strengthen a judicial system which has suffered from arbitrary decisions for five decades, “said Mr. Drissa Traoré, Vice-President of FIDH.

However, our organizations have expressed concern about the serenity of the judicial process and the safety of its participants or victims who testified in this case, because of the position held by Mr. Pivi today as Minister of Presidential Security. As our organizations had recommended for Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Oumar Camara, indicted in February 2012, or the commanding Sekou Resco Camara, Governor of Conakry, charged in a case of torture in February 2013, both of which have been maintained their government positions, we recommend that stakeholders take all steps to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judicial processes in respect of the right to a fair trial. We therefore invite you to consider setting aside of these officials, blamed for acts of exceptional gravity.

guinea9-28greenberetfoulahSept. 28, 2009 – Several Guineans were apprehended on this day and never been seen since

FIDH OGDH the AVIPA and AFADIS out that the Council of Human Rights of the United Nations adopted in its 23th session held in Geneva in June 2013, a resolution on Guinea, including encouraging the Guinean Government to “support the work of the panel of judges and expedite legal proceedings against those responsible for the events of 28 September 2009.”

“Alpha Condé has made 2013 the year of justice, which we welcomed. Today, at the end of the first half of this year, the Guinean justice sends a strong signal with its charge of Claude Pivi, as it did in February charging the Commander Sékou Resco Camara, in another case. However, the Guinean justice must go further and the government will give it an even greater support for the taking stock in December is positive. For the symbolic affairs of the fight against impunity for January and February 2007, 28 September 2009 has now been added to the violence that rages in Conakry, including demonstrations in recent weeks, “said Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH

In New York, Guineans Let the World Know They Demand Justice for Victims of Sept. 28, 2009 Massacre and Rapes

The pouring rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of protesters in New York this past Friday on the third anniversary of a military junta-sponsored massacre and rape of women in Conakry, Guinea. If anything, the bad weather seemed to energize the 400+ crowd, as they stood behind police barricades, across the street from the office of the Guinean mission to the UN, calling for justice for Sept. 28 victims and for Alpha Conde to leave office.

During the protest, an employee of the mission came out on the sidewalk to videotape the protesters. The crowd reacted angrily and the police moved in quickly to defuse the situation by asking him to stop videotaping. He did, temporarily, and then resumed. The crowd roared again and the police and event organizers figured it was a good time to start the march to the UN where a rally would be held.

The march was just as lively as the protest. Protesters continued the same chants which called for justice and an early retirement for Alpha Conde. The march proceeded along NY sidewalks at lunch hour. Huge cardboard pictures held aloft the heads of marchers showed the carnage of the Sept. 28 massacre. New Yorkers, normally unfazed by most things, stopped in their tracks, stunned by the horror depicted in the pictures. Several pulled out their cell phones and snapped pictures.

The march ended at Dag Hamerskjold Park, across from the UN, where marchers met up with a couple hundred more supporters.

Kadiatou Diallo kicked off the rally by reading a statement from her organization, Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon, which organized the event. Ms. Diallo exhorted activists to continue the struggle for justice for victims of Sept. 28. She added that a large part of the work ahead will involve fighting the pervasive impunity within Alpha Conde’s administration which prevents indictments of Sept.28 massacre perpetrators from taking place.

Mouctar Diallo, a candidate in the Guinean 2010 presidential election, a former cabinet member, and presently the head of the New Democratic Forces opposition party, was in New York for a visit and spoke to the crowd. Mr. Diallo stated that the impunity of Alpha Conde’s government has made it impossible to achieve justice for victims and is the primary impediment to other civil and human rights problems in the country. He stressed the need for activists to remain vigilant and warned that the Conde administration is prepared for a long fight to ensure that the Sept. 28 case is not transferred to an international court.  Diallo was present in the stadium on the day of the massacre along with the rest of the opposition leaders, with the exception of Lansana Kouyate and Alpha Conde, who were conspicuously absent and outside the country. Diallo witnessed both rapes and murders in the stadium. When he gave an interview to Agence France Presse a few days later to get the word out about the massacre, the ruling junta arrested and jailed him.

Shirley Pate, of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, stated that the international community has a major role to play in making sure victims get justice. She urged activists to lobby members of the international community to press for swift prosecutions in the Sept. 28 case and to place human rights and the general welfare of the people of Guinea at the forefront of foreign policy decisions. In addition, she affirmed her organization’s determination to work in solidarity with Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon to achieve justice for the victims.

In a solemn moment, a partial list of one hundred names of victims of Sept.28 was read aloud. After each name, the victim’s fate was announced. Approximately, 60 people were listed as “disappeared” or “killed, corpse disappeared.” It is well known in Guinea that the ruling junta threw many bodies into the sea, from a helicopter, to avoid the discovery of mass graves.

Guineans and supporters, who gathered in New York this past Friday, were successful in opening the eyes of the world to the plight of victims of the Sept. 28 massacre in Conakry. In addition, their message about Alpha Conde came through loud and clear. He seems to be opposed to just about everything that progressive 21st century leaders stand for in the area of human rights. After all, it was Alpha Conde, during a trip to the US in July 2011 to visit President Obama, who, in an appearance at the National Democratic Institute, answered a question about human rights by saying he was not the “’head’ of human rights in Guinea.” Another panelist from a Washington think tank reprimanded him by saying, “human rights should be at the head of every leader’s list.”

[NOTE: Due to a technical problem, Guinea Oye is not able to include a video of the day’s events. When the problem is fixed, video will be posted.]

Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon Organizes Sept. 28 NY March of Remembrnce and Protest on Third Anniversary of the State-Sponsored Massacre of Guinean Opposition Supporters

SEPT. 28, 2009:  Two women search desperately for news of loved ones who attended the opposition rally at the Sept. 28 stadium where state-sponsored security forces attacked participants.  Many relatives did find their loved ones — at the morgue.  In addition, over 100 women were brutally raped by security forces which specifically targeted them because of their Peul ethnicity.

New York, September 17th, 2012

Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon has organized a march of remembrance and protest to be held on Friday, September 28, 2012 in New York. The march will begin at 10:00 am at the diplomatic representation of Guinea and end at the United Nations – Plaza of Nations.

On 28 September 2009, security forces in the Republic of Guinea-Conakry shocked the world by despicable acts of rape of over 80 women and the killing of more than 150 people in broad daylight. Since the massacre, the political climate in Guinea has deteriorated due to the impunity enjoyed by the agents of the security forces suspected of committing these crimes.

Pottal Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon is an advocacy group that works for the defense of human rights in Guinea. One of the objectives of the march is raising awareness of international organizations within the United Nations regarding the danger of repeated violations of human rights in Guinea and the climate of impunity maintained by the government after the last presidential election. The inauguration of President Alpha Condé of Guinea was supposed to pave the way for democracy. This hope has been ruined today because of the Government’s refusal to continue the investigation of crimes against humanity, its open support of the perpetrators of these crimes and its continuous and deliberate attacks by state security forces against political opponents, media, specific ethnic groups and regular citizens.

Another objective of the march is to send a clear message to international development and human rights organizations about the role that should be theirs to avoid political chaos in Guinea. Policies of ethnic exclusion and the Government’s provocative measures have the potential to destabilize Guinea; this will have dangerous consequences for the population and sub-region of West Africa, which is struggling to recover from wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.

For more information on the human rights situation in Guinea consult Human Rights Watch report, “Bloody Monday”, massacre on 28 September 2009 by the security forces of the government www.hrw.org/node/87190.

The website JUSTICE IN GUINEA, http://www.justiceinguinea.org and website of Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon, www.pottalfiibhantal.org provide information on violations of human rights, repression and ongoing actions to bring justice to the people of Guinea.

Press Liaisons:

  • Aissatou Bah: 240-632-1187
  • Abdourahmane Barry : 484-614-4542
  • Aissatou Bobo Diallo: 646-750-1411

Reuters’ Saliou Samb: “When It Comes to Guinea, Please Turn in Your Press Credentials”

Col. Moussa Tiegboro Camara – This guy is no Boy Scout. Rather, he is the primary perpetrator in the September 28, 2009 massacre in Conakry, Guinea.  He was indicted by a Guinean court, but will not spend a day in jail.  It helps to be a member of the Alpha Conde’s cabinet.

It appears that Guinea Oye is destined to correct the work of Saliou Samb, a reporter for Reuters who covers Africa. Every time Samb writes an article about Guinea he demonstrates that he is either incapable or unwilling to provide his readers with the appropriate background to understand the current situation. Putting the news in context is a primary function of a journalist. Once again, with the following article, Mr. Samb fails his readers.

Guinea Oye criticizes Samb’s articles because they are filled with holes wide enough to drive a truck through. Reuters, which employs Mr. Samb,is a highly respected, international news outlet and one of the few that reports on Guinea in English. Guinea Oye seeks to fill some of the holes left by Samb to give readers what they do not get from him: historical context, political analysis and, some understanding of what Guineans think about their country and its leader.

Accordingly, Guinea Oye has annotated Samb’s latest article,”FACTBOX-Key political risks in Guinea.”

FACTBOX-Key political risks in Guinea

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 16:30 GMT

Source: reuters // Reuters

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, June 13 (Reuters) – Guinea is struggling to complete its transition to civilian rule after a December 2008 coup because the final step in the process – parliamentary elections – has been repeatedly delayed amid disputes between rival political camps.

Opponents of President Alpha Conde question his will to hold genuinely free elections. The first of a series of planned opposition protests triggered violent clashes with security forces in May.

[Oh my, Samb leap frogs over the most important part of the Guinea story. Readers are left wondering about the nature of the disputes and why the opposition might not trust Alpha Conde to hold free elections.

The source of the current political angst in Guinea goes back to Alpha Conde’s theft of the 2010 presidential elections which he achieved with the help of a crony from his political party, Louceny Camara ,as a member of Guinea’s electoral commission, the CENI. Perhaps, the most jaw-dropping episode of fraud committed by Camara came when he stole thousands of ballots to prevent the strongest presidential candidate in the race, Cellou Dalein Diallo, from winning the election outright in the first round.

Several stolen ballots were found later in Camara’s home. Subsequently, Camara was indicted and convicted of election fraud and sentenced to a year of prison and ordered to pay a fine.

As for the pressure to hold parliamentary elections, this comes largely from the international community. The opposition is not ready to rush off to elections – too many problems which all lead to fraud in the parliamentary elections. Since convicted felon,Louceny Camara, changed the course of Guinean history with his audacious election fraud in 2010, he has risen to become, you guessed it, president of the CEN. The opposition has been asking for Camara’s resignation since 2010 as well as reconstitution of the electoral commission altogether. Conde would be a fool to grant this request because Camara knows where all the “bodies, er, ballots are buried.” Also, there’s the matter of an electoral rolls review that the government is turning into a census and the award of a no-bid contract to put on elections to a company which has shady connections with Guinean officials. In spite of the pressure from the international pressure to proceed with parliamentary elections, it would be suicide for the opposition to participate in an election under a head of state who was not elected legitimately, supported by an electoral commission president convicted of election fraud.

Before we go further into this article, let’s clarify the last sentence of the excerpt above. “The first of a series of planned opposition protests triggered violent clashes with security forces in May.” The 80,000+ opposition protesters on May 10 did not “trigger” anything, except concern on the part of the Conde government. Guinean security forces, have carte blanche to do what they do best, beat and fire upon unarmed and peaceful fellow citizens.]

Yet despite the uncertain political situation and Conde’s commitment to a wholesale review of mining contracts, the world’s leading exporter of bauxite continues to see strong investor interest, notably in its burgeoning iron ore sector.

Here are some of the factors to watch.

POLITICS

Guinea’s move to civilian rule in late 2010 – thanks to a presidential election which was its first free poll since independence from France – was seen as a powerful model for the region after years of military leadership.

[Once again, the 2010 polls were a scam. Conde’s “election” was a model only in the minds of the international community which knew Conde stole the election, but was so hell bent on getting the election over so it could move to the final transition step – parliamentary elections – that it spinned the Conde “win” into the most inspiring, patriotic stories that journalists ate it up, including Samb.

Not only did the international community look the other way as the election fraud was committed, but serious human rights abuses were taking place as well. Just prior to the second round of the 2010 election, Alpha Conde deliberately incited those of the Malinke ethnic group to commit violence against Peuls, who comprise the majority of the opposition. People were seriously injured, killed, disenfranchised,and women were raped. The elections, a model? This is an insult to the people of Guinea.]

But the failure to hold parliamentary polls is worsening political and ethnic tensions simmering in the West African country.

[Actually, it is Alpha Conde’s impunity that is making everything worse in Guinea, not the failure to hold elections. If you are going to write about “ethnic tensions,” you must go back a bit and start with Sekou Toure, Guinea’s first president, whose penchant for torture and murder affected all ethnic groups, but most especially the Peuls. Also, to help the reader understand more about current ethnic tensions, it is irresponsible not to mention that, during his campaign and through his presidency, Alpha Conde spews anti-Peul rhetoric openly on the airwaves and has formed ethnic militias of his own group – Malinkes.]

What to watch:

– Legislative elections. Guinea’s electoral commission set a July 8 date for the polls after they were delayed from late 2011 due to a row with the opposition. But Conde has said even this date is untenable given the time needed to fix problems in the voting process.

Opposition leaders welcomed the proposed new delay, saying the credibility of the vote was more important than the date.

They say they still have concerns over the voter registration system and the make-up of the electoral commission, which they fear could have a pro-Conde bias.

But time is pressing: donor nations have urged Guinea to hold the polls and the European Union has said it will resume full cooperation with Guinea only after they are held.

– Protests and ethnic tension. Conde’s chief political rival Cellou Dalein Diallo, who conceded defeat in the 2010 presidential poll, has called for a series of protests.

The political strife has been mirrored by growing unease among Guinea’s main ethnic groups, notably the Malinke supporters of Conde and the pro-Diallo Peul who feel marginalised under Conde.

Corinne Dufka, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and a longtime Guinea-watcher, said: “There is a perception that winner-takes-all politics is at play – moving to legislative elections would help mitigate that perception.”

– Justice. A Guinean court has filed charges against a top army officer over the killing of scores of mostly Peul protesters during a Sept. 28, 2009 massacre of pro-democracy protesters that shocked the world.

[Yes, it is true that a top army officer was indicted in relation to the September 28 massacre. Natural questions would be: “What do the people of Guinea think of this?” “Is this a step towards justice for victims?” Unfortunately,no. Once again, critical context is missing.

The army officer is Col. Tiegboro Camara, a primary perpetrator of the massacre who was seen by thousands that day orchestrating the assault. After Alpha Conde assumed office in 2011, he selected Col. Camara for a post in his cabinet. Another major perpetrator of the massacre, seen by thousands at the stadium as well, is Claude Pivi whom Conde selected for a post in his cabinet as head of presidential security.

If readers are provided this background, they will understand that the people of Guinea know the “indictment” is bogus and being used as a ruse to appease the international community, most especially the incoming chief of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to show that Guinea is “working” on the case, rather than the truth, which is, that it’s being buried.]

However the under-resourced judiciary has much to do to erode the widespread belief that serious crimes still go unpunished. The fate of Moussa Dadis Camara – junta leader at the time of the massacre – remains undecided. He remains in comfortable exile in Burkina Faso and the International Criminal Court has warned it could take up his case if Guinea fails to.

– Military unrest. Guinea’s army has a history of meddling in politics and some military elements were implicated in an assassination attempt targeting Conde in July 2011.

The government said 26 military officers and 13 civilians had been arrested in connection with the attack and that they had spoken of links to political and business circles.

[After much analysis, long-time Guinea watchers say that Alpha Conde choreographed his own “assassination attempt” and that he did so for three important purposes: 1) an excuse to round up lots of military soldiers thought to be loyal to his predecessor, interim President, Sekouba Konate ; 2) an excuse to round up and persecute members of the opposition, most importantly, the no.2 guy in the UFDG, the largest opposition party, who had to flee the country to escape death as the soldiers made clear they were heading to his home to kill him. Bah Oury, still fears for his life should he return to Guinea; he remains outside the country and 3) a rush of international sympathy, especially from President Obama, who met with Conde at the White House a mere 10 days after the “assassination” attempt.]

Continue reading “Reuters’ Saliou Samb: “When It Comes to Guinea, Please Turn in Your Press Credentials””

Guineans in New York Push for Justice in Homeland

September 13, 2011, 11:30 am

Guineans in New York Push for Justice in Homeland

By KIRK SEMPLE
Mamadou Maladho Diallo, a community organizer and journalist, goes through signs used for recurring demonstrations for human rights in Guinea, at the Pottal Fii Bhantal Fouta Djallon office.Todd Heisler/The New York TimesMamadou Maladho Diallo, a community organizer and journalist, goes through signs used for recurring demonstrations for human rights in Guinea, at the Pottal Fii Bhantal Fouta Djallon office.

Tucked behind a Bronx mosque is the headquarters of an advocacy group for immigrants from Guinea, the West African homeland of the hotel housekeeper who accused the French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in May. In a corner of the office sit stacks of hand-lettered placards that were made for a rally to protest violence against Guinean women.

“We don’t ask for revenge,” explained Mamadou Maladho Diallo, a staff member of the organization. “We ask for justice.”

But Mr. Diallo was not talking about Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

Well before that case made headlines across the world, Guineans in New York City suffered another trauma that has also weighed heavily on their small diaspora. Nearly two years ago, security forces in Guinea went on a rampage at an opposition rally in the country’s capital, raping and killing scores of protesters.

Most of the victims were from the Fulani ethnic group, Guinea’s largest. Since then, Fulanis have been calling — so far, without success — for the arrest and prosecution of the attackers. A group of Fulanis in the New York region are now organizing a nationwide campaign in the United States to draw attention to their quest for justice.

The campaign is scheduled to begin on Thursday with a news conference at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building in Harlem. A rally in front of the United Nations is planned for Sept. 28. Continue reading “Guineans in New York Push for Justice in Homeland”