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Guinea's Prime Minister on Reconciliation and Elections


Guinea’s new prime minister says he is hopeful he can deliver on his promise to reunite Guineans as well as have a transparent parliamentary election later this year. Lansana Kouyate was appointed earlier this year by President Lansana Conte as a consensus prime minister to ease two months of anti-Conte protests that left over 100 people dead and hundreds more injured.

Prime Minister Kouyate, who is on a visit to the United States, told VOA that national reconciliation is the first priority of his government.

“First of all political parties and the government, there is a need for reconciliation. There is need to reconcile the social segment of the people. Today it’s evident that there is a kind of antagonism due to the lack of justice. If you don’t have social justice you cannot have enough discipline to drive your country toward development. And I can quote too many types of reconciliation. Between the army and the population there is a problem because from the riots, as you have seen, people have died and that this created a kind of suspicion or even animosity between the army and the population,” he said.

Prime Minister Kouyate said reconciliation in Guinea should go beyond the country’s borders to other countries in the sub-region.

Many in the opposition are not sure if Prime Minister Kouyate can deliver on his promises,given that President Lansana Conte has said only he can sign decrees. The Prime Minister said the question of who signs decrees is an important issue to Guinea’s road political and economic recovery.

“During the riots, there was an agreement between unionists, civil society on the one side and the government on the other side, President Conte himself on the other side. It was decided that the Prime Minister will appoint all the civil servants except members of the cabinet. But unfortunately, it is that makes implementation of that decree is impossible because in our constitution, it is said somewhere that the president appoints them by decree. If it was said that the Prime Minister also will appoint them by decree, that could have been the solution,” Kouyate said.

The Prime Minister said he will work with President Conte to get a consensus to allow him to sign decrees.

President Conte has been in power for 24 years and presided over his own re-election. Now Guinea’s opposition parties have said they want free and fair elections.

Prime Minister Kouyate said events on the ground have given him the determination to have free and transparent parliamentary elections this December.

“I have the assurance of my determination, the ultimate reality on the ground. People have accepted to die and we should not disappoint those who struggle to get Guinea where we are today,” Kouyate said.

He said his government has drafted and passed what he called genuine election laws for the formation of a national electoral commission. Now he said the rest would depend on how the political parties would behave. He said the decision to have parliamentary elections in December was made through consultations with all the political parties.

Prime Minister Kouyate said his meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fruitful.

“The Secretary of State was well aware about the situation in Guinea, what happened just before my arrival and what is happening right now. She was well aware of my determination and the first steps I have taken to move forward. So we received from her, on behalf of the administration, the real commitment to back up the process and help us to achieve all our goals,” he said.

Kouyate said he got a firm commitment from the United States to help restructure Guinea’s security forces, including the army. He also said he got commitment from the U.S. to help Guinea prepare for its parliamentary election later this year.

Guinea has not had a program with the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank for a long time. Prime Minister Kouyate said he was able to arrange a program.

“In July we are going to have a delegation, a mission from the IMF and World Bank in order to get a renewal of our cooperation in terms of program. The World Bank is going also to organize on the 23rd of July in Paris the donor meeting which would generate some direct assistance to Guinea,” Kouyate said.

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