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Guinea's Junta Leaders React to Pressure Not to Stand in Next Year's Elections

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The U.S.-based international foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has called on Guinea's military leader Captain Moussa Camara to organize free and fair elections. 

IFES Regional Director for Africa Almami Cyllah said in a statement last week that this would signal a positive beginning for Guinea to embark on the road to democracy. 

Over the weekend reports quoted junta leaders as rejecting a U.S. Embassy call for the military junta to stay out of next year's presidential elections. 

Elizabeth Cote, IFES Country Director for Guinea, said the international concern now is whether junta leader Moussa Camara would present himself as a candidate in next year's elections.

"I think that the elections will take place in 2010. But I think that the big question is whether President Dadis Camara will present himself as a candidate or not. That's basically what…the international community and of course the most recent declaration from the United States, that's basically what people are worrying about," she said.

In a statement last week, the U.S. Embassy in Guinea reportedly said the participation of any of the country's military leaders in the 2010 elections would undermine the transparency and credibility of those elections.

Guinea's foreign ministry Sunday rejected the U.S. criticism. The ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) said in a statement that Guineans must be left alone to freely choose their own leaders.

Cote said junta leader Camara is sensitive to the mounting international pressure for him not to participate in next year's elections.

"The way his psychology works, the president doesn't like to be pushed into saying whether he's going to present himself or not," Cote said.

There were reports supporters of junta leader Captain Camara held a rally over the weekend calling on him to take off his military uniform and stand as a presidential candidate.

Cote downplayed the seriousness of the group which organized the reported weekend rally in support Camara.

"When Lansana Kouyate last year was prime minister of Guinea, this same individual leader was leading a group for Lansana Kouyate for change. So you see it's a little bit of these machines that are already formatted and all they need to do is to be oriented toward such and such a leader, and they seem to do what they are told," Cote said.

She said it was difficult to form a vibrant opposition in Guinea because of divisions among opposition political parties and civil society groups.

"There is a lot of division within civil society; there is a lot of division in the private sector, political parties. Youth movements are divided; the women's groups are divided. So it's always been difficult for a united front to react very rapidly in a focused manner for or against something," she said.

Still Cote predicts that in the days to come, Guineans could see the emergence of something in the form of a counter-movement both from political parties and civil society. 


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