News / Africa

    Guinea Struggles to Complete Political Transition

    A woman at a pro-Alpha Condé rally, Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 29, 2012. (N. Palus for VOA)
    A woman at a pro-Alpha Condé rally, Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 29, 2012. (N. Palus for VOA)
    Nancy Palus
    Guinean President Alpha Condé fired 11 government ministers in an unexpected reshuffling of his cabinet on Friday, removing the last remaining members of a military-linked government as part of the West African country's transition to civilian rule.
     
    “In forming a government that is entirely civilian, President Condé sends a strong signal of the normalization of Guinea," read a statement from Condé's office reported by The Associated Press.
     
    But Guinea, which was slated to hold legislative elections within six months of the historic December 2010 presidential poll that put Condé in office, has been politically deadlocked, leaving citizens unable to elect regional representatives.
     
    Many Guineans say electing a parliament would go a long way to reducing tension that has prevailed for months, not least because many donors and investors are holding back until free and fair legislative elections take place.
     
    Even European Union officials have said the delay is threatening more than $180 million in aid for roads and urban development projects, along with security sector and judicial reforms.
     
    Aboubacar Sayon Fofana, a university student in Conakry, says ongoing conflict between the country's main ethnic groups is directly linked to pending elections: President Condé is Malinké and the main opposition leader is Peul.
     
    "Once Guinea holds a free and transparent legislative poll," says Fofana, "stability will return."
     
    A question of transparency
     
    For the opposition, however, “free and transparent” is precisely what is at issue. While officials in Conakry say they are doing all they can to ensure polling fraud would be impossible, opposition leaders say the Condé government is looking to manipulate the process to win a majority in parliament.
     
    Although the opposition welcomes Condé's recent changes to the leadership and makeup of Guinea's independent electoral commission, major hurdles and a deep mistrust remain.
     
    To this day, supporters of Cellou Dalein Diallo, a former prime minister and Condé’s opponent in the 2010 presidential run-off, insist Condé stole the election, a sentiment that fuels hostility toward his administration. The absence of an elected legislature only exacerbates their concerns about an over-concentration of power in the executive office.
     
    "While recent changes in the electoral commission show progress, two problems remain: controversy over the corporation that will manage voter lists and disagreement over the right of Guineans abroad to vote," says Diallo.
     
    According to Elizabeth Côté of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), handling of voter lists and other such matters should be squarely in the hands of the independent electoral commission.
     
    "Guinea has been fighting for an independent election commission since the mid-90s, [and] now that it has one and it's in the constitution and its role is very clear, it's time for them to accept that," she says, indicating Guinea’s political class is still learning what it means to entrust its elections to a fully independent institution.
     
    "The whole concept of independence hasn't been weighed by most of the people who have been requesting this commission to exist," she adds. "This whole concept of independence is very important. This cannot happen overnight. It might take generations."
     
    Lacking dialogue
     
    Beyond work of the electoral commission, though, international observers say the entire electoral process needs buy-in at the highest levels on both sides, something that, for now, appears to be a ways off.
     
    Diallo, for example, has pointed to the absence of a direct, formal dialogue between government officials and his opposition leadership.
     
    According to Vincent Foucher, International Crisis Group's senior analyst for West Africa, lack of a high-level dialogue and consensus will present difficulties even if an arrangement to hold elections is reached.
     
    "There are militants and radicals on both sides that are not willing to compromise, and there will be incidents," says Foucher. "If there is no high-level consensus these will probably be much worse and much more worrisome and more consequential for the stability of Guinea.”
     
    But, he adds, given Guinea's history of political violence, ethnic divisions and abuses by security forces, the country has made important strides.
     
    “The 2010 presidential elections were the first really competitive elections ever in the history of Guinea," he says. "Some countries have had it for years — like Senegal or Benin, they have experience with that — Guinea is just discovering it."
     
    This week, Guinea’s government and the opposition are working to finalize the membership of the electoral commission. Observers say the earliest legislative polling could take place would be in the first quarter of 2013.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora