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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid