Doctors Without Borders’ Guinea Ebola Coordinator Says Virus “Out of Control,” Conde’s Promises Short on Delivery

EbolaBBCmap
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or, in English, Doctors without Borders (DWB) is putting out its second Ebola alert in two months stating the virus is “out of control” in Guinea. In an article further below, dated November 6, 2014, the DWB coordinator for Ebola in Guinea, Caroline Scholtes, says that with the virus spreading to several different geographic locations in the country, the two primary Ebola treatment centers, Conakry and the Forest region, are not adequate.  Further, Scholtes says,  “Ebola is likely to become endemic in Guinea. It’s depressing.”  And, it seems like Alpha Conde is  not being helpful.
 
In an October 26, 2014, article Rony Brauman, former head of DWB, said that DWB staff in Conakry complained that in May and June, Conde tried to coerce them not to be so public with information about the spread of Ebola in Guinea  because it was scaring people and would affect the economy (Read: it would affect investor interest in Guinea).  Unfortunately, Conde went further and accused the DWB staff of trying to enhance their own reputations with the public by providing updates about the outbreak!  Given that Conde’s very best friend, Bernard Kouchner, is the co-founder of DWB, you have to wonder whether he exerted influence to support Conde.
 
Today, new stats were issued for Guinea’s Ebola program: 1,813 cases, 1079 deaths.  Note that these numbers are considerably higher than figures given for Guinea over the last several months. In the second week of October alone, 100 new cases were reported in  Conakry.
 
It looks like Conde’s pressure to downplay the number of Ebola cases back in the spring and summer may have had some effect.  From the article below and anecdotal stories from Guineans who recently traveled to Guinea, there is little trust in Conde’s ability to handle the Ebola situation.
 
Please note that as of today, November 9, 2014, International SOS reports that Guinea’s Ebola status is “WIDESPREAD AND INTENSE TRANSMISSION”
 

Conakry (dpa) – For three full days, a man lies dying in midst of Marche Madina, a bustling market in Guinea’s capital, Conakry. It is one of the largest in West Africa. He is writhing in pain, then unconscious. Nobody dares approach him.The fear of Ebola, which killed more than 4,900 people across the region during the worst haemorrhagic fever outbreak in history, is written on everyone’s faces.A toll-free telephone number, 115 – set up by the health department as an Ebola hotline – is ringing but leads to a recorded message: “This number is currently unavailable.” Panic starts to spread.On day three, the Red Cross finally arrives to collect the man. But it’s too late. His body is taken straight to the morgue.The teams have been busy since the number of confirmed Ebola infections in Conakry dramatically shot up this month, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A hundred new cases were reported in the capital in the second week of October alone.Ten months into the outbreak, which started in December in a small village in Guinea’s east, the country roughly the size of the United Kingdom has only two Ebola treatment centres.

One 85-bed facility is located in the capital, the other, with about 35 beds, is situated in the town of Gueckedou, at the opposite end of the country, a two-day car drive further east. There is no help for Ebola patients in-between.

Both treatment centres are run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), with some support from Guinean health workers.

The country’s public hospitals don’t have the know-how to treat Ebola patients. The only other facility for the population of 12 million is a transit centre in the south-eastern town of Macenta, the country’s current Ebola hotspot.

“There should be a treatment centre in each [of Guinea’s 33] prefectures,” says MSF project coordinator Caroline Scholtes.

The WHO says 10 additional Ebola facilities are needed.

Even the better off middle class, which has the means to access private health care, is currently at a loss. The private Ambroise Pare Clinic in Conakry was shut down on October 10 after a nurse was infected with Ebola.

The entire staff is under observation for 21 days. A note reading “heightened epidemiological vigilance level” is plastered across barricaded doors.

That means the vast majority of the 1,553 Ebola cases the WHO recorded in Guinea by October 25 continue to be cared for at home – placing families and communities at high infection risk and making it extremely difficult to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“We have a huge catastrophe on our hands,” a United Nations source in Conakry told dpa. “This is just the beginning.”

He believes the number of unreported cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the number recorded by the WHO.

The lack of treatment centres also means that most patients have to travel far, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, to reach help. Few Guineans own a car. Most rely on crowded, public transport.

Although the nation has a lower case load than neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, experts believe the epidemic will be harder to contain here. Ebola cases are spread out across the country – and not concentrated in the capital, like in Liberia – and therefore harder to trace.

“In Guinea, Ebola is increasing exponentially in terms of case numbers as well as geographically. One or two cases in remote areas are enough to create a hotspot if systems are not in place,” warns Scholtes.

With every new case, contact tracing gets more difficult. One Ebola patient has an average of about 100 potential contacts.

“The outbreak is completely out of control. Ebola is likely to become endemic in Guinea. It’s depressing,” says Scholtes.

Disapproval of President Alpha Conde’s Ebola response is perennial among international aid organizations in Conakry, but no one wants to criticize the government publicly, out of fear their work might be hampered.

On paper, the president has led a strong fight against Ebola. He declared a “national health emergency,” warned against panic and believing in rumours.

Conde tried to negotiate with Guinea’s neighbours to lift travel bans that hurt the economy and pleaded for attacks on health workers and burial teams to stop. Last week, he called on retired doctors to offer their assistance in treatment centres.

“If we fight back immediately, the faster we can stop the disease from spreading,” said Conde.

But for now, Conde has translated few of his appeals and promises into practice.

For more background on Guinea and Ebola:

Ground zero in Guinea: the outbreak smoulders – undetected – for more than 3 months

Dispatch from Guinea: Containing Ebola

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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 . . .

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’s Legislative Election Postponed to September 28 – Reuters

Guinea’s legislative election postponed to September 28: mediator

CONAKRY | Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:47pm EDT

(Reuters) – Guinea’s long-delayed legislative election scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed by four days to September 28 following talks between the opposition and government on Saturday in Conakry, a U.N. mediator said.

Guinea’s main opposition leader had threatened to call supporters into the streets if authorities pushed ahead with the election without fully addressing complaints over preparations. He said he was satisfied with the delay announced on Saturday.

The poll, meant to cap Guinea’s transition back to civilian rule, has been delayed repeatedly since President Alpha Conde was elected three years ago, sowing doubts among Guineans, investors and donors over political progress in the world’s top bauxite exporter.

Said Djinnit, the U.N. mediator charged with ending a political deadlock in a country that is prone to violent street protests, said all parties had agreed to the delay to let the electoral commission fine-tune its plans.

“We are convinced that with this agreement, nothing can hinder the holding of parliamentary elections under free, transparent, and inclusive conditions on Saturday, September 28, 2013 in Guinea and abroad,” Djinnit said.

The opposition has complained that the voter list is riddled with errors, meaning many of its supporters have been left off while people elsewhere in the country have been registered several times over.

It also complains that polling stations in opposition strongholds have been scattered far apart, meaning voters would have to travel far and therefore be less likely to vote.

Cellou Dalein Diallo, the main opposition leader, said he had wanted a longer delay to fix the problems but had agreed to the compromise of Sept 28.

“For the credibility of the agreement (reached between the political parties), it was important to have a further delay,” he said.

Dozens of people have been killed in protests over the election preparations this year.

Election experts say the delay will allow organizers to address some of the issues, but a fundamental lack of trust between the two sides and the election commission, which is seen as pro-Conde, means tensions are likely to simmer.

The West African nation’s economic growth forecast has been slashed to 2.9 percent for this year, down from 4.5 percent, because of the protests and political paralysis.

The unrest and a review of contracts led to major mining firms – looking to tap into Guinea’s iron ore reserves, seen as some of the world’s largest – stalling planned projects.

(Writing by David Lewis and Bate Felix; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Guinea’s Election of Fraud and an International Comm. Pretending Otherwise

En_Route_pour_le_Cimétière_1One of many young victims, Fode Mamoudou Bah, of Guinean security forces’ extrajudicial executions during opposition demonstrations, October 22, 2012

If you have seen videos of opposition campaign rallies, you know the crowds are huge.  The attendees appear hungry for, well, anyone who is not Alpha Conde.  In fact, campaign rallies held during the 2010 presidential campaign were just as large and lively but it did little good when up against built-in fraud and and dirty tricks disenfranchisement coordinated by the CENI, Sekouba Konate, Alpha Conde and his RPG loyalists and enough state-sponsored forces to dole out the necessary repression to hold the farce together.

 
These days, the CENI is imploding under the weight of its current misdeeds and illegal manipulation of the electoral process. This includes not living up to the July 3 agreement which was supposed to signal an end to “hostilities” and a return to legislative elections.  But, each day, more and more evidence surfaces of a spectacular fraudulent election in the making for September 24.  So much so, the opposition is threatening a return to the streets in a few days if the CENI and the government do not come through on their commitments and adhere to constitutional provisions regarding elections.  
 
As for the people of Guinea, they are getting a bitter dose of the election, even before it starts.  There are numerous reports of voters not being able to find their names on the voting roll.  Also, the CENI’s plan to add thousands of new voter stations throughout the country is worrisome for many.  First, adding so many new stations presents a logistical nightmare for voters trying to determine if they are to report to their old voting station or if they have been re-assigned to a new one and whether the voting roll will contain their names when they get there.  The CENI promises to add all missing names to the voter roll as well as make sure all voters are informed if they are to report to new voting stations.  Representatives of the international community are echoing the CENI’s promises as if to re-assure Guineans and the rest of the world that the CENI means what it says.  It’s a good thing Guineans are not fools, because this is, as they say, “deja vu all over again.” In 2010, many found their names absent from the voter rolls and found themselves often assigned to the incorrect voting stations.  This was not incompetence nor happenstance, it was by design.
 
Ironically, in the United States, after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which ensures citizens the right to vote, Southern whites conspired to prevent African-Americans from voting.  Their primary tools?  Removing names of African-Americans from voting rolls and bouncing them from one voting station to another, knowing that the need to get to jobs or a lack of transportation money would prevent them from being able to cast a ballot. The combined impact of these methods resulted in the disenfranchisement of large numbers of African-Americans well after the Voting Rights Act became the law of the land.   
 
 
The international community has needs that can only be met with the completion of Guinea’s legislative elections.  There is aid money to be distributed, projects to pursue and investor confidence to bolster.  What happens during the election is of little significance as long as a few representatives of the international community publicly announce, the day after the election, “while the election had some irregularities, overall, it was free and fair.”  It worked in the 2010 election and it will work again.  But, diplomats, UN and EU representatives, etc., remain uneasy. The signs are unmistakable on social media as they or their organizations issue cheerful, downright uplifting messages which obscure the truth of the enormous fraud already built into the Guinean electoral system — “there will always be issues in any election.”  Of course there will, but it’s a matter of proportion.  In the 2010 election, it took a mountain of fraud for the CENI et al. to go from a first round with Conde getting 18% and Cellou Dalein Diallo’s 53% of the vote (which would have won him the presidency if Louceny Camara had not stolen over 50,000 ballots cast for him in Conakry).  And, then, from there to Diallo losing in the second round??  Fraude extraordinaire!  Yet, the day after the election, Alpha Conde was Guinea’s “first democratically-elected president.”  Yet, those who anointed Conde as such, would never accept an election in their countries if the CENI was running it.  The international community shows the people of Guinea an immense amount of disrespect when it expects them to tolerate this situation.
 
The point is the international community needs order and calm in Guinea and they expect to achieve it with this election.  Yet, most importantly, this isn’t just any legislative election.  This is the election that will validate Conde’s “win” of the 2010 election.  When he “wins” a majority in the national assembly, no one in the international community will be interested in hearing about Conde’s sins nor his crimes.  Yet, to the people of Guinea, he is a lawless usurper and they will never stop trying to get rid of him.  They can’t stop because he has been responsible for too many deaths, too many lives destroyed, too many arbitrary arrests, and too many attacks on opposition demonstrations and Peul neighborhoods by state forces supplemented by Malinke militias, Donzos, etc. who have killed, raped and destroyed livelihoods.  And, yes, you may also lay at the feet of Alpha Conde the impact of his theft of elections which prevents the MAJORITY of the population from having any true political representation and, therefore, no participation in determining the course of their country.
 
By September 25, Conde may succeed in stealing his second election in three years and with it, he will have managed to alienate well over half the people of Guinea.  When you steal an election, much less two, you arrive or are maintained in office, but have no real mandate to govern.  Only massive repression will keep Conde in place.  There can be no doubt that Conde will pull out all the stops in the next two years of his presidency to crush the opposition, especially its Peul members.  And, much of the blame for the coming carnage must be placed at the feet of an international community for passing off wildly fraudulent elections as hallmarks of democracy.  
 
One day, the international community will be forced to choose between Alpha Conde and the people of Guinea. If unable, there are many who will make the decision for them. 

Guinea Dialog Update 6-5: No Great Strides and No Slugfests

djinnitInternational Facilitator for Guinea Dialog
On Monday, June 3, the first day of the dialog between the opposition and the government, each side had separate pre-meetings with international facilitator, Said Djinnit.   At that meeting, the opposition presented Djinnit with a proposed agenda for the first formal meeting to take place the next day.  On several previous occasions over the last few years, the opposition has  complained that the government never provides agendas for meetings, making it impossible to move ahead.
 
The agenda presented to Djinnit on Monday, June 3 is as follows:  
 
1.  The Waymark-Sabari contract issues
 
2.  The inner workings of the electoral commission, THE CENI
 
2.  Voting for Guineans living abroad
 
3.   The schedule for elections
 
The opposition also suggested that the government could show good faith if it released opposition supporters being held in jail without cause.
 
 
Yesterday, Tuesday, June 4, was supposed to be the first full day of dialog, but the opposition asked for a postponement.  
 
Finally, the first dialog meeting finally took place today, June 5.  It last nearly nine hours and Said Djinnit met with reporters afterward.  Below is aminata.com report.
 
Note, in the following article, it states that today’s meeting  was attended by representatives of the “international community.”  Ambassadors from France and the U. S. were in attendance.
 
Stay tuned . . .
 
 
Posted on June 5, 2013

Just after the meeting of politicians, “The first session of the dialogue was opened this morning at 10 am with the participation of delegations of the presidential party and the opposition and the presence of college facilitators and representatives of technical partners and financial representatives of the international community were also present.”

Parties adopted the agenda in four points:

1.  Questions related to the technical operator (Waymakr-Sabari) and voter registration

2;  Vote Guineans abroad

3.  Operation of the CENI

4.  Election Timeline

It was followed by frank exchanges between the parties on the issues of the agenda. I want to emphasize that the discussions took place in a friendly atmosphere, fraternal, in a constructive spirit in order to find the necessary compromises. The parties have agreed to maintain a climate conducive to further dialogue relaxation and healing. So I appeal to all that nothing is said, done which might compromise this mindset. the debate will resume tomorrow at 15 hours and in the meantime informal consultations will be conducted. “

Interview by Oumar M’Böh for Amianta.com

Guinea–Breaking: Did UN Pick for Guinea Dialogue Precipitate Conde Setting Date for Legislative Elections without Consulting Opposition??

SD

SAID DJINNIT,  REPRESENTATIVE OF UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WEST AFRICA

Conde Sets Date for Legislative Elections

Conde is fond of issuing decrees on Friday and Saturday evenings when the world is paying far less attention than during the week. Following this pattern, Conde saved one of his more important decrees to be delivered by state TV this evening — Conde has fixed the date of June 30 for legislative elections.

Here are excerpts from an aminata.com article about the announcement:

The Head of State shall convene the electorate on June 30 (last minute)

Posted on April 13, 2013

The Head of State invited the Independent National Electoral Commission, the National Council of the communication, the Minister of Territorial Administration to take all measures for the implementation of the decree.

The decision to convene the electorate means that the Waymark contract will be maintained and voting by Guineans abroad will not take place.”

These are the two primary demands of the opposition for continuing the dialogue.

“Immediately after the decree was read, Damantang Albert Camara, government spokesman, welcomed the decree. According to him, the country must go quickly to elections to ‘finish the transition.’” The opposition is threatening again, in the next few days, a series of events throughout the national territory. This decree comes after the appointment by Ban Ki Moon of Said Djinit to be the international facilitator for the Guinean dialogue. The decree of the President of the Republic may plunge the country back into violence.”

Said Djinnit, Representative of the UN Secretary-General in West Africa, Appointed International Facilitator for Guinean Dialogue

In the same Saturday evening broadcast on state television, it was announced that Said Djinnit was appointed by Ban Ki-moon to serve as the facilitator to the Guinean dialogue. Djinnit is the most senior UN representative in West Africa. He figured prominently during the 2010 presidential campaign when he weighed in on the extensive state-sponsored violence committed by security forces under interim president Sekouba Konate. Further, Djinnit understood well that the state violence was not only political, but that it was ethnic in nature. Djinnit monitored the 2010 election and made several trips to Guinea to try to pressure the interim government into holding the second round sooner, rather than later. As it was, the second round was held four months late. He was not immune to claims of fraud that permeated the entire 2010 election. In July 2011, Djinnit had to go to Conakry to meet with Conde to give him a little lesson in democracy – Conde needed to meet with ALL political parties to achieve agreements on several issues concerning legislative elections.

To put it simply, few representatives of the international community have the insight into Guinean politics that Djinnit has and the saavy to understand that Conde is not the choice of the majority of Guineans. As a result, Conde and his administration do not want Djinnit in Guinea, much less sitting at the government’s table as a facilitator of the dialogue. Conde has nothing to gain and everything to lose if Djinnit shows up on the steps of Sekoutoureya Palace. The only way to stop Djinnit is to stop the dialogue, and the only way to stop the dialogue is to anger the opposition so thoroughly that it quits the dialogue. A decree setting forth a unilateral decision about the date of the legislative elections is just the kind of bomb to throw.

Opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, was interviewed by guineenews.org after the decree announcement. Diallo’s first reaction was, “we are not going to accept this.” He said that Conde made a unilateral decision that should have been made within the framework of the dialogue instead. He said it is curious that Conde’s decree came on the eve of re-starting the dialogue and the arrival of Said Djinnit as the international facilitator. He stated that since this decision was not announced by the electoral commission, the CENI, it appears that Conde’s decree took it by surprise as well. He said more information will be available after the opposition meets tomorrow to decide next steps.