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.

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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
 

CENI Announces Numbers for Matoto, A Full Set of Provisional Numbers Are to Be Announced Tomorrow Night -8PM

After agonizing days and hours pouring over real ballots, fake ballots, real PVs, fake PVs, having droop-eyed Alhassane Conde strut around like a field marshall supervising the vote count and the EU observers who walked around for weeks with their mouths agape because they couldn’t believe what they were seeing AND who stayed overnight at the centralization station to prevent the Guinean electoral commission, the CENI, and the RPG from continuing to commit fraud, there was hardly a dull or fair moment in Guinea’s 2013 electoral farce.
 
The CENI provided numbers* for Matoto today. Concerning single-member constituencies, Sidya Toure (UFR) was elected with 112,437 votes against against the RPG (ruling party) candidate with 110,709 votes.  
 
Regarding proportional representation, the ruling party (RPG) is leading with 103,363 votes, followed by the main opposition party, UFDG which collected 70,999 votes. The third political force in the country (UFR) is also third with 53,392 votes. And, the SARP is fourth with 13,295 votes.
 
guineenews.org is featuring its estimate of the allocation of national assembly seats among the political parties.  You may wish to check out that website as well.
 
 
 
*Guinea Oye is unable to say that any of the numbers announced today are “results,” given the massive, audacious fraud the government committed.  Thus, we will refer to CENI “results” as numbers.

To Matoto, Alpha Conde Sends a “Magistrate Superviseur”– No Such Position Under Guinea Electoral Code– to Bring the Win Home for the RPG (FR-EN)

Read about the RPG-CENI’s latest maneuvering to give Alpha Conde a majority in the national assembly.   The same kind of fraud took place in the 2010 presidential election in which the RPG and the CENI worked in tandem to bring Alpha Conde to Sekoutoureya Palace. 
The Supreme Court gave the RPG-CENI the go-ahead to recount the ballots in Matoto.  It started today.
[Below is a link to the French version of the article.  After that, is an English version translated with Guinea and editing by Guinea Oye.]
 
In Guinea, representatives of the authorities and the opposition continued to struggle Sunday to agree on checks on the Matoto vote count, which ifs the largest constituency in the country, and continues to delay the publication of the full results of the parliamentary elections of September 28.


According to an AFP reporter, the blockage is in the administrative commission of the centralization of votes (CACV) in popular area of Conakry and the first constituency of Guinea with 440,000 enrolled.

The CACV is responsible for collecting and transmitting the results to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a joint body composed of representatives of the presidential majority and the opposition, which is now awaiting the results of Matoto on 38 constituencies.

The problem for several days has been that, the ruling party, the Rally of the People of Guinea (RPG), demanded various checks, putting in doubt the veracity of the Matoto figures and suspecting the President of the CACV, the magistrate, Victorian Rahba,  suspecting the Minutes (PV) were manipulated.

The CENI petitioned the Supreme Court to have Rahba replaced. Further, pending the response of the court, the CENI announced that it has designated a special magistrate, Seny Camara, to “supervise” the work of the CACV in Matoto, hoping it will lift the locking.

This solution was rejected by the opposition, which has challenged the magistrate Camara, and reiterated its request for cancellation of elections.

I would like to reaffirm our desire to see the elections canceled and in the meantime, we reject in the most categorical way the presence of the supervisory Magistrate, a term coined by the CENI, which does not exist in the Guinean electoral Code, said former prime minister, Sidya Toure, in the presence of other opposition leaders, Diallo and Jean-Marie Dore.

We are adamantly opposed to another judge to replace the one in place. We will not accept it, he added.

The vote count was expected to resume Sunday after several days in which the work could not take place, whereas party representatives were on hand for Sunday morning as well as observers from the European Union (EU). No incidents have been reported, however, according to the AFP journalist.

The special election security force (Fossel), however, was on higher alert than the previous day outside the headquarters of the CACV and inside the building, reported the journalist.

In a statement released Sunday, the representatives of the international community committee members asked that the government and the Guinean opposition follow previous agreements regarding legislative elections and expressed concern over delays in the publication of the provisional results of the election on 28 September.

They call on the CENI  to make every effort to complete the tabulation of provisional election results for publication as soon as possible and, in any event, before the holiday of (Muslim) Eid al-Adha, which should be celebrated Tuesday or Wednesday in Guinea.

They invite, in particular, political parties and all the institutions concerned to cooperate fully to complete the finalization and tabulation of the results of riding Matoto.

By Sunday evening, the CENI had released the results of the election on September 28 in 37 of 38 districts which, according to unofficial figures, give a slight edge to the camp of President Alpha Conde.

According to statements made ​​at the first tabulation in Matoto, opposition is given the lead.

However, the complex mode of election (SMP for 38 MPs proportional to the largest remainder for the other 76) makes any random projection difficult, according to experts.

 

Source AFP

A Bit of Comic Relief – Sidya Toure: “We asked for a UN helicopter to transport the results from Kaloum to the CENI”

From guineenews.org

Article translated into English via Google with editing by Guinea Oye

Due to the slow release of some preliminary results of the vote, the leader of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), Sidya Touré, joked with his peers in the opposition suggested that they ask for a United Nations to charter a helicopter to transport the results from Kaloum to the Electoral Commission.

Nine days after the vote, the results of Kaloum, Matoto and Ratoma three communes of Conakry are just a ten minute drive from the headquarters of the CENI but we are still waiting on them, while the returns from Lola and Yomou city which are more than 1000 km away, and they are distributed. 

“Kouyate has forgotten something, we have introduced a formal request to the United Nations to provide a helicopter that will transport results Kaloum and Matoto to the Ceni. Because it’s been nine days. I think the UN helicopter is needed, “insisted Mr. Touré.

And former Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore was invited to join in. “Our unit is unwavering. Be sure of this,” said he said.

To a colleague, who asked if the CENI has jurisdiction to annul an election, Mr. Dore replied bluntly. “That’s his business.” It was enough to make people laugh all together

Guinea Opposition Will Not Participate in National Legislative Election Vote Count – Gov’t Fraud

  • Below is a link to the French version and after that you will find the article translated via Google into English with editing by Guinea Oye

Législatives en Guinée : l’opposition ne participera pas au comptage des voix

Legislative Elections in Guinea:  The Opposition Will Not Participate in the Vote Count

Le Monde.fr avec AFP | 03.10.2013 à 17h07

LEGSIDYACELLOUOpposition party leaders, Sidya Toure (UFR) and Cellou Dalein Diallo (UFDG) photo:AFP

 
The Guinean opposition decided Thursday, October 3, not to participate at the national level counting of votes of the parliamentary elections on 28 September, called ” cinema “ by his spokesman Sidya Toure.

“How do we participate when we are not allowed to defend our thesis, and we are forbidden to speak?  This is “cinema” and we feel that this is a casus belli “ , said Toure . He had earlier told the press that the opposition rejected “categorically” the victory of the Rally of the People of Guinea (RPG), currently in power in two medium-sized cities north of Conakry, Fria Dubréka which were announced by the Electoral Commission National Independent (CENI).

WARNING AGAINST “TAMPERING WITH RESULTS”

In the morning, the opposition warned the government again against “misappropriation” of legislative votes, especially as the CENI continues to publish, in dribs and drabs, the provisional official results which “do not allow us to identify the trend.”  In a public statement, it warned “the government against engaging in any electoral fraud “ and reiterated “its firm intention to oppose any tampering of results. “

Guineans began to vote on Saturday 28 in elections expected to mark the completion of the transition to democracy after a military coup in 2008, and put an end to decades of political instability in countries in West Africa. The vote, originally scheduled to be held two years ago, is the first free consultation in Guinea since independence in 1958, but it takes place in an atmosphere tense after political and ethnic violence in which fifty died during the campaign.

The RPG’s Alpha Conde faces an opposition alliance formed around Diallo, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) and unsuccessful candidate for president in 2010.

Guinea Gov’t. Minister, Finding His RPG Party Losing In Kaloum, Sends in Reinforcements: Soldier-Voters

Cellou Dalein Diallo, president of the UFDG party announced a little earlier today that the opposition won in all five fiefs of Conakry.  UFDG candidates won in Dixinn and Ratoma and the UFR won in Matoto, Kaloum and Matam. But, trouble is brewing in the Kaloum vote, after a government minister became perturbed when he found out UFR candidate, Baidy Aribot was running ahead of the RPG candidate.

 
Here is an excerpt drawn from two stories in Leguepard.net, that tell what happened next.
 
In Kaloum the race is not over because of fraud on the part of those in power. Inside the High School, on September 28, in the district of Coronthie, in Kaloum:
 

The Minister for National Defense, Abdul Kabele Camara orchestrated fraud in polling stations in Kaloum.  According to a delegate of the UFR in the office and confirmed by other members of that office, the Minister left the station upon hearing the RPG candidate was running behind in legislative race and then returned with 8 military people to vote.

Then, the top commander of the gendarmerie, General Ibrahima Balde (and ironically, the Commander of the election police (FOSSEL) brought 13 military in to vote.  He was followed by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army who presented seven voters to help inflate votes for Conde’s party, the RPG. 
 
All of the soldiers said they sought to vote by proxy, which is absolutely prohibited.
 

The president of the UFR party, SidyaToure, hearing of the fraud attempt, went to Kaloum.  FOSSEL police prevented Toure from entering.  A gendarme told him that military officers were inside the voting station, but that he had orders not to let anyone in.

 
Never a dull moment, stay tuned . . .