Guinea’s military leadership continues
to draw criticism from its neighbors and world partners for last month’s coup
that followed the death of President Lansana Conte. In Washington, the Bush administration voiced
support for free elections and efforts by the African Union and the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
for the junta to speed the transition to civilian rule.
Department spokesman Sean McCormack announced a suspension of some aid to
Conakry, but said yesterday that humanitarian relief and support for
democratization programs would continue.
Elizabeth Cote is country director in Guinea for IFES the International
Foundation for Electoral Systems. She
says that foreign powers would be
wise to continue supporting a new beginning for Guinea’s transition to
democracy, which should be allowed to unfold at a reasonable pace.
think the fact that the United States are not suspending their democratic or
their election assistance is important.
It’s important not to necessarily impose a date as an international
partner. There’s been a lot of mention
about the end of June for an election. I
think that technically, it would be something difficult to be able to do. We
are in the middle of a voter registration that has a lot of problems that need
to be solved. To short-circuit a
transition is not doing a favor to Guinea,” she said.
after the December 23 coup, Captain Moussa Camara pledged to hold elections in
2010 to return the country to civilian rule.
However, coup leaders under pressure from other governments and regional
bodies revised the timetable with promises to hold new elections before the end
of this year. The African Union has
already suspended Guinea, and ECOWAS leaders are set to meet in Nigeria’s
capital, Abuja, on Friday to discuss a possible suspension from the regional
trading bloc. Nigeria currently holds
the rotating chair of the 15-member community and Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe
said yesterday that he expects ECOWAS members to oust what he called the
unacceptable regime. Ellizabeth Cote of
IFES says that nations concerned about the military takeover are quite familiar
with the circumstances surrounding Guinea’s need for an orderly transition and
that their support for suspension of aid is both politically driven and precautionary.
people and Guineans and different countries in general know that there are a
lot of political statements that are said and that on the other hand, people
are willing to observe and see what’s going on.
It’s not black and white," she says.
One West African leader,
Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, has encouraged the coup leaders to get the
economy moving again and put Guinea back on track as a nation. Cote points out that Mr. Wade’s support for
the regime most likely stems from previous personal knowledge of coup leader
Camara, who is said to have spent earlier years as a student living in Senegal.
our young head of state, who studied in Senegal, probably made a point of
contacting him (Wade) or vice versa.
There’s a relationship there, and there was a spontaneous statement, as
Wade knows how to make them,” she noted.
Cote points out that an ECOWAS
delegation that visited Guinea after the coup will take a “wait and see”
attitude about how a succession of leadership would unfold. But she contends that nations would best
serve the interests of the citizens of Guinea by remaining open about
continuing to provide foreign assistance.