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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs