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Analyst Hopeful Military Rulers Would Transform Guinea Into a Democratic Society

A Guinean-born professor says the new military rulers in Guinea have a unique opportunity to transform the country into a democratic society in a way similar to Ghana under Jerry Rawlings and Mali under Amadou Toumani Toure, the so-called soldier of democracy.

Lansine Kaba, professor emeritus of history and African and African American studies at the University of Illinois, said this means the new military junta would have to call on the support of Guinea’s best minds.

He told VOA he’s not surprised that the former prime minister under late President Lansana Conte has endorsed the new military government.

“Logically this should not be a question. We had a coup which means that the armed forces had decided to dissolve the government, the constitution and the national assembly. So that whether the prime minister endorses or does not endorse does not change the situation. What is important now is for the people in power in Guinea to realize that, as every Guinean knows, the country needs action against corruption, action against under-development, action against poverty, action mismanagement. It is time for the new people in Conakry to begin to use the best people, men and women to help them,” he said.

Guinea’s new military ruler, Captain Moussa Dadis Camera has promised to fight what he said is endemic corruption under the late President Conte.

Professor Kaba said Guineans should judge Camara not on his words but on his actions.

“We wish him the best of luck. He needs lots of luck. The people from Guinea need a qualitative transformation of their condition. That Camera and his team be the agent of that change, that would be very great,” Kaba said.

A prominent Guinean opposition leader, Ba Mamadou told VOA this week that the Guinean political opposition would engage the new military rulers because Guineans were tired of fighting after nearly 25 years under the late President Conte.

Kaba agreed that the modern history of Guinea was full of lamentable interactions between the people and the military. He recalled the 2007 confrontation between the military and pro-democracy protesters in which many died.

But he said he was hopeful that the new military junta would be an improvement over the Conte government.

“I think only a military leadership that is enlightened and that is vigilant can bring about the dreams of the Guinean people. Those Guineans dream of something akin, something similar to what General General Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali was able to do or something like Captain Rawlings in Ghana was able to do. These two men were military men, but they came and they cleaned up the system. And you see Mali is a democratic country today and Ghana is a democratic country. So let’s hope that Captain Camara and his team will follow this path that made Mali and Ghana quite different,” he said.

Kaba said he doesn’t believe that the succession of military governments in Guinea has any tribal or ethnic connection.

“No! I don’t think ethnicity played a role. Look at the composition of this junta. You have many people from who from the forest region, you have some people from upper Guinea, and by the names I could see there are captains and colonels from Middle Guinea, some people are also from Maritime Guinea. So I would not think in terms of ethnicity right now. The people who made the agreement to seize power and to constitute a junta talked in terms of unity. The 32 people whose names were given represent each part of Guinea,” Kaba said.