Showing posts tagged as "Guinea"

Showing posts tagged Guinea

11 Oct

Turkey’s Kurdish fears, Mali’s unwon war, Guinea’s elections…what we’ve been up to this week.

10 Oct
“In Guinea, ethnicity is a significant factor influencing voters and ethnic communities all have a strong sense of victimhood. Restoring trust in the electoral system is crucial to defusing intercommunal tensions.”
- Vincent Foucher, Senior Analyst for West Africa at Crisis Group
Read the Full Commentary here
Photo: Nicoletta Fabbri/Flickr

In Guinea, ethnicity is a significant factor influencing voters and ethnic communities all have a strong sense of victimhood. Restoring trust in the electoral system is crucial to defusing intercommunal tensions.”

- Vincent Foucher, Senior Analyst for West Africa at Crisis Group

Read the Full Commentary here

Photo: Nicoletta Fabbri/Flickr

7 Oct
Guinée: Il faut (encore une fois) sauver les élections | Vincent Foucher
Le 28 septembre, les Guinéens ont voté dans le calme pour élire leurs députés. Dans la capitale Conakry au moins, la participation paraissait significative. Parfois dès six heures du matin, les gens se pressaient pour voter, patientant dans de longues queues. Face à des problèmes organisationnels considérables et dans des conditions matérielles difficiles, membres des bureaux de vote et délégués des partis se débattaient et débattaient avec gravité et sérieux, le code électoral à la main. En ville sans doute plus que dans les campagnes, et à Conakry sans doute plus que dans les régions, observateurs nationaux et internationaux, experts électoraux et journalistes ont pu relayer les multiples problèmes au fil de la journée, et bien des conflits ont pu être ainsi désamorcés. Au soir du scrutin, la fierté et le soulagement étaient palpables.
Lire tout l’article (allAfrica) 
Photo: United Nations Development Programme/Flickr

Guinée: Il faut (encore une fois) sauver les élections | Vincent Foucher

Le 28 septembre, les Guinéens ont voté dans le calme pour élire leurs députés. Dans la capitale Conakry au moins, la participation paraissait significative. Parfois dès six heures du matin, les gens se pressaient pour voter, patientant dans de longues queues. Face à des problèmes organisationnels considérables et dans des conditions matérielles difficiles, membres des bureaux de vote et délégués des partis se débattaient et débattaient avec gravité et sérieux, le code électoral à la main. En ville sans doute plus que dans les campagnes, et à Conakry sans doute plus que dans les régions, observateurs nationaux et internationaux, experts électoraux et journalistes ont pu relayer les multiples problèmes au fil de la journée, et bien des conflits ont pu être ainsi désamorcés. Au soir du scrutin, la fierté et le soulagement étaient palpables.

Lire tout l’article (allAfrica) 

Photo: United Nations Development Programme/Flickr

29 Aug
The PSC and ECOWAS | Jimam Lar
Weak institutions are often blamed for Africa’s underdevelopment and insecurity. But this isn’t the case in West Africa, argues Jimam Lar. As recent interventions by the AU and ECOWAS in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry demonstrate, an effective framework for maintaining peace and security in the region now exists.
FULL ARTICLE (International Relations and Security Network) 
Photo: US Army Africa/Flickr

The PSC and ECOWAS | Jimam Lar

Weak institutions are often blamed for Africa’s underdevelopment and insecurity. But this isn’t the case in West Africa, argues Jimam Lar. As recent interventions by the AU and ECOWAS in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry demonstrate, an effective framework for maintaining peace and security in the region now exists.

FULL ARTICLE (International Relations and Security Network) 

Photo: US Army Africa/Flickr

1 Aug

Ethnic violence intensifies in Guinea as legislative elections approach | Jerome McDonnell

On July 14th, the killing of a young man at a gas station triggered days of intense violence in Nzérékoré and Koulé, cities in southeastern Guinea Conakry. Clashes resulted in the death of around 100 people, according to government spokesman Albert Damatang Camara. The violence came shortly after President Alpha Condé announced that long-delayed legislative elections would finally occur on September 24th. The last legislative elections were in 2002, and the road to holding new legislative elections has been a rocky one. Within the past eleven years, Guinea has experienced the death of former president Lansana Conté, a military coup and a presidential election tainted by accusations of vote rigging. Ethnic politics now play a part in Guinea’s political crisis. Vincent Foucher, senior analyst for International Crisis Group, puts recent clashes into context for us. 

FULL EPISODE (WBEZ Worldview) 

30 Jul
Perils of doing business in Africa |  Karim Raslan
Malaysians need to take heed of what’s going on in Africa – not least because our companies have sunk US$19bil (RM59bil) into the continent, its largest source of developing-country FDI.
While Africa is a promising destination – according to the World Bank five out of the 10-fastest growing economies in 2012 were from there – political risk remains a major factor: something I know all too well of as a board member of the International Crisis Group (ICG).
FULL ARTICLE (The Star Online)
Photo: Sasha Lezhnev-Enough Project/Flickr

Perils of doing business in Africa |  Karim Raslan

Malaysians need to take heed of what’s going on in Africa – not least because our companies have sunk US$19bil (RM59bil) into the continent, its largest source of developing-country FDI.

While Africa is a promising destination – according to the World Bank five out of the 10-fastest growing economies in 2012 were from there – political risk remains a major factor: something I know all too well of as a board member of the International Crisis Group (ICG).

FULL ARTICLE (The Star Online)

Photo: Sasha Lezhnev-Enough Project/Flickr

21 Jun
Guinea: President Condé Must Assume His Responsibilities, So Should the Opposition | allAfrica
By Vincent Foucher, Crisis Group’s West Africa Senior Analyst
In Conakry after a bleak period in May, when demonstrations marked disagreement between the government and opposition over impending legislative elections, negotiations have begun and political tension in Guinea has eased. Differences remain, however, over the electoral process. Both sides need to compromise if another round of political violence is to be avoided.
Eleven years after its last legislative elections and two and a half years after Alpha Condé’s presidential victory in a disputed vote, Guinea still lacks a National Assembly. The opposition, led by Cellou Dalein Diallo, Sidya Touré and Lansana Kouyaté and with significant support from centrists, has accused the government of manipulating the electoral process to guarantee its victory. The presidential team, for its part, has claimed that the opposition does not want to contest an election it will lose and prefers to ruin the process. The accusations on both sides are severe and dialogue has been difficult. The opposition has staged street protests in which several dozen supporters of the opposition and a few members of the security forces have died since 2011.
FULL ARTICLE (allAfrica)
Photo: Julien Harneis/Flickr

Guinea: President Condé Must Assume His Responsibilities, So Should the Opposition | allAfrica

By Vincent Foucher, Crisis Group’s West Africa Senior Analyst

In Conakry after a bleak period in May, when demonstrations marked disagreement between the government and opposition over impending legislative elections, negotiations have begun and political tension in Guinea has eased. Differences remain, however, over the electoral process. Both sides need to compromise if another round of political violence is to be avoided.

Eleven years after its last legislative elections and two and a half years after Alpha Condé’s presidential victory in a disputed vote, Guinea still lacks a National Assembly. The opposition, led by Cellou Dalein Diallo, Sidya Touré and Lansana Kouyaté and with significant support from centrists, has accused the government of manipulating the electoral process to guarantee its victory. The presidential team, for its part, has claimed that the opposition does not want to contest an election it will lose and prefers to ruin the process. The accusations on both sides are severe and dialogue has been difficult. The opposition has staged street protests in which several dozen supporters of the opposition and a few members of the security forces have died since 2011.

FULL ARTICLE (allAfrica)

Photo: Julien Harneis/Flickr

1 Mar
CrisisWatch N°115  |  (01 Mar 2013)
The assassination on 6 February of opposition leader Chokri Belaïd sparked Tunisia’s worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution. The killing triggered mass protests throughout the country against the ruling Islamist party An-Nahda, and in turn counter-protests by An-Nahda supporters. Having dissolved the government in response to the assassination, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali later resigned after his plan to form an interim cabinet of technocrats collapsed in the face of opposition from his own An-Nahda party.
Syria’s conflict continued to exact a horrific toll, with the number of dead, wounded and displaced rising. The Assad regime further escalated violence, reportedly firing ballistic missiles into civilian neighbourhoods, while reports also emerged of its mistreatment of prisoners; the rebels continued to make steady gains; signs of intensifying communal and sectarian friction continued to emerge. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called the humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description”. As yet there is little sign of progress in advancing a political solution to the crisis.
The Syrian conflict continues to threaten to destabilise neighbouring Lebanon. Ever more refugees flow across the border and Hizbollah appears increasingly sucked into the fighting. Meanwhile recent controversy over a proposed new electoral law exposed rising sectarianism and mistrust between the various Lebanese communities.
In Yemen, tensions between southern separatists on the one hand and state security forces and the Islamist party, Islah, on the other reached their highest levels since early 2012, and could lead to further violence. Clashes between separatist protesters and security forces in the South left at least six people dead. The UN Security Council warned that the actions of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and separatist leader Ali Salim al-Bid threatened to undermine the country’s democratic transition.
North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on 12 February, a reaction to the UN Security Council’s January resolution condemning its satellite launch last December. As the Security Council held immediate emergency talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test as “deeply destabilising”. China also declared publicly its “firm opposition” to the test and summoned the North Korean ambassador to Beijing to express its dissatisfaction.
Tension increased ahead of Guinea’s forthcoming legislative elections. The electoral commission, accelerating its preparations for the vote scheduled for 12 May, controversially validated the choice of two companies to undertake a revision of voter rolls. The opposition, who believe the companies are open to political pressure, responded by withdrawing from electoral preparations, and opposition supporters protested in Conakry and other cities.
In Bangladesh, violent Islamist protests against the country’s 1971 war crimes tribunal intensified, as protesters faced off against a popular movement in support of death sentences for those accused, including senior leaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. One of the organisers of the demonstrations in support of death sentences was hacked to death in a suspected Jamaat-e-Islami attack mid-February. Dozens have been killed in clashes since the tribunal sentenced a Jamaat-e-Islami leader to death on 28 February, and violence was continuing. The government faces growing calls to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.
In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe announced that the referendum on a new constitution would be held on 16 March, as worrying reports emerged of politically-motivated violence and intimidation, and of raids on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), confiscation of their documents and equipment, and police allegations that 99 per cent of NGOs are engaged in regime change.
FULL CRISISWATCH
Photo: Bronski Beat/Flickr

CrisisWatch N°115  |  (01 Mar 2013)

The assassination on 6 February of opposition leader Chokri Belaïd sparked Tunisia’s worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution. The killing triggered mass protests throughout the country against the ruling Islamist party An-Nahda, and in turn counter-protests by An-Nahda supporters. Having dissolved the government in response to the assassination, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali later resigned after his plan to form an interim cabinet of technocrats collapsed in the face of opposition from his own An-Nahda party.

Syria’s conflict continued to exact a horrific toll, with the number of dead, wounded and displaced rising. The Assad regime further escalated violence, reportedly firing ballistic missiles into civilian neighbourhoods, while reports also emerged of its mistreatment of prisoners; the rebels continued to make steady gains; signs of intensifying communal and sectarian friction continued to emerge. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called the humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description”. As yet there is little sign of progress in advancing a political solution to the crisis.

The Syrian conflict continues to threaten to destabilise neighbouring Lebanon. Ever more refugees flow across the border and Hizbollah appears increasingly sucked into the fighting. Meanwhile recent controversy over a proposed new electoral law exposed rising sectarianism and mistrust between the various Lebanese communities.

In Yemen, tensions between southern separatists on the one hand and state security forces and the Islamist party, Islah, on the other reached their highest levels since early 2012, and could lead to further violence. Clashes between separatist protesters and security forces in the South left at least six people dead. The UN Security Council warned that the actions of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and separatist leader Ali Salim al-Bid threatened to undermine the country’s democratic transition.

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on 12 February, a reaction to the UN Security Council’s January resolution condemning its satellite launch last December. As the Security Council held immediate emergency talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test as “deeply destabilising”. China also declared publicly its “firm opposition” to the test and summoned the North Korean ambassador to Beijing to express its dissatisfaction.

Tension increased ahead of Guinea’s forthcoming legislative elections. The electoral commission, accelerating its preparations for the vote scheduled for 12 May, controversially validated the choice of two companies to undertake a revision of voter rolls. The opposition, who believe the companies are open to political pressure, responded by withdrawing from electoral preparations, and opposition supporters protested in Conakry and other cities.

In Bangladesh, violent Islamist protests against the country’s 1971 war crimes tribunal intensified, as protesters faced off against a popular movement in support of death sentences for those accused, including senior leaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. One of the organisers of the demonstrations in support of death sentences was hacked to death in a suspected Jamaat-e-Islami attack mid-February. Dozens have been killed in clashes since the tribunal sentenced a Jamaat-e-Islami leader to death on 28 February, and violence was continuing. The government faces growing calls to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe announced that the referendum on a new constitution would be held on 16 March, as worrying reports emerged of politically-motivated violence and intimidation, and of raids on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), confiscation of their documents and equipment, and police allegations that 99 per cent of NGOs are engaged in regime change.

FULL CRISISWATCH

Photo: Bronski Beat/Flickr

Crisis Group Alert: Salvaging Guinea’s elections?
Dakar/Brussels  |   27 Feb 2013
The opposition’s recent suspension of its participation in preparations for the May legislative elections illustrates the tensions threatening Guinea’s fragile democratic transition. Worse still, they may undermine its brittle internal peace. The immediate reasons for the walkout – legal and technical concerns over the revision of voter rolls – should not distract from the country’s deep divisions. The May vote, if it takes place, will do so amid severe distrust among political elites, heightened ethnic tensions and pervasive allegations of fraud. The potential for a failed electoral process to become a pretext for worse – protests degenerating into bloody clashes, communal violence, and perhaps even the return of military interference in civilian politics – is real. To avoid this, all parties need to step back, engage in genuine dialogue and work together to create an atmosphere in which election results have some chance of being accepted by all involved.
On 23 February, the two main Guinean opposition coalitions, together with a number of other parties, announced that they would withdraw from preparations for the legislative elections, finally scheduled for 12 May this year. They criticise the internal workings of the electoral commission, raise fears of fraud and contest the procedures for overhauling voter rolls, demanding that a new company for this task be selected through a competitive tender. They also denounce the exclusion of Guineans abroad, whose participation is provided for in the constitution and who cast ballots in the 2010 presidential polls – overwhelmingly for the opposition. New demonstrations have been called for today.
Guinea’s recent political upheaval has meant repeated delays to the legislative vote, which should have taken place in 2007. The death of the long-serving dictator President Lansana Conté in 2008 opened the way for a further brutal spell of military rule. In 2010, the country’s first free presidential election successfully ended military rule, but was marked by fierce competition, eighteen violent deaths and a rise in ethnic politicking. More than two years after assuming office, the winner of those polls, President Alpha Condé, a long-time democracy advocate, has not yet held the legislative elections. This is deliberate, say opposition politicians. They accuse President Condé of having won fraudulently in 2010 and, because his ethnic group is a minority, of using delays to the parliamentary vote to prepare the ground for rigging. For its part, the president’s camp argues it tried to launch deep and important electoral reforms, which it was forced to abandon so as to accommodate the opposition, and that, even now, the opposition – which it portrays as a bunch of corrupt plutocrats – irresponsibly obstructs the holding of elections. Both sides’ charges are grave.
Thus far, repeated national and international efforts to forge political consensus on the electoral system have failed. A “consultation” at the presidential palace, to which “all actors of socio-political life” have been invited, has been tabled for 4 March. Given that the 12 May date itself is contested, and that for a vote on that date President Condé must convene the election on 3 March, this meeting appears to be taking place too late. Moreover, its vague details, the bloated list of invitees, and the fact that it was called by the territorial administration minister rather than the president itself offer scant reassurance to opposition politicians that the government – thus far reluctant to engage them in meaningful dialogue –  suddenly intends to do so.
The opposition’s withdrawal bodes ill for a peaceful and legitimate vote. The precise implications of the election commission pushing ahead with a May date – as the commission’s chair Bakary Fofana promises – without the consent of opposition-aligned commissioners, are troubling, if unclear. Nor is it clear what the opposition means by withdrawing from the current process while insisting it will not boycott the polls, or by its oft-repeated threat to “block” the vote. Non-participation rarely proves a successful strategy. The opposition risks being left without a voice in decisions related to electoral mechanics, like the revision of voter rolls. Its exclusion, and the resulting polarisation, will make it almost impossible to manage the conflicts that will inevitably arise during a contentious competition for power in a divided society with a recent violent past. Despite recent efforts by the judiciary to curb impunity, Guinea’s security forces have a long history of heavy-handed repression. A scrappy election could present restless officers, who only recently submitted to civilian rule, with opportunities for troublemaking. The cost of divisive and violent elections for the young democracy could be enormous.
A preferable course – as Crisis Group’s recent report recommended – would be to redouble efforts, while there is still time, to achieve at least a minimum consensus on the basic parameters for the vote. Both sides need to engage in a genuine dialogue and both need to give ground. President Condé, as incumbent, must demonstrate first his commitment to conciliatory politics. He needs to present opposition politicians with an alternative to either a boycott or passive acceptance of his will and offer a credible platform on which to engage them in direct conversations. He could, for example, concede to, and apply himself to raise funding for, the vote of the Guinean diaspora – who in 2010 comprised only just over 120,000 registered voters (of four million). In turn the opposition should take technical challenges seriously, in particular regarding the voter rolls, as it cannot afford to prove right those who accuse it of obstruction.
In working through the technical controversies, the UN Development Programme, the International Organisation of Francophonie and the European Union, who all provide assistance but have come under attack from one or the other side, are natural allies and should work on a joint intervention. Political engagement must accompany technical assistance: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), given its role during the transition two years ago, could offer its good offices to facilitate dialogue if necessary. Without urgent action, Guinea is headed towards a risky and divisive vote with grave implications for stability and the discredit of the entire political class.

Crisis Group Alert: Salvaging Guinea’s elections?

Dakar/Brussels  |   27 Feb 2013

The opposition’s recent suspension of its participation in preparations for the May legislative elections illustrates the tensions threatening Guinea’s fragile democratic transition. Worse still, they may undermine its brittle internal peace. The immediate reasons for the walkout – legal and technical concerns over the revision of voter rolls – should not distract from the country’s deep divisions. The May vote, if it takes place, will do so amid severe distrust among political elites, heightened ethnic tensions and pervasive allegations of fraud. The potential for a failed electoral process to become a pretext for worse – protests degenerating into bloody clashes, communal violence, and perhaps even the return of military interference in civilian politics – is real. To avoid this, all parties need to step back, engage in genuine dialogue and work together to create an atmosphere in which election results have some chance of being accepted by all involved.

On 23 February, the two main Guinean opposition coalitions, together with a number of other parties, announced that they would withdraw from preparations for the legislative elections, finally scheduled for 12 May this year. They criticise the internal workings of the electoral commission, raise fears of fraud and contest the procedures for overhauling voter rolls, demanding that a new company for this task be selected through a competitive tender. They also denounce the exclusion of Guineans abroad, whose participation is provided for in the constitution and who cast ballots in the 2010 presidential polls – overwhelmingly for the opposition. New demonstrations have been called for today.

Guinea’s recent political upheaval has meant repeated delays to the legislative vote, which should have taken place in 2007. The death of the long-serving dictator President Lansana Conté in 2008 opened the way for a further brutal spell of military rule. In 2010, the country’s first free presidential election successfully ended military rule, but was marked by fierce competition, eighteen violent deaths and a rise in ethnic politicking. More than two years after assuming office, the winner of those polls, President Alpha Condé, a long-time democracy advocate, has not yet held the legislative elections. This is deliberate, say opposition politicians. They accuse President Condé of having won fraudulently in 2010 and, because his ethnic group is a minority, of using delays to the parliamentary vote to prepare the ground for rigging. For its part, the president’s camp argues it tried to launch deep and important electoral reforms, which it was forced to abandon so as to accommodate the opposition, and that, even now, the opposition – which it portrays as a bunch of corrupt plutocrats – irresponsibly obstructs the holding of elections. Both sides’ charges are grave.

Thus far, repeated national and international efforts to forge political consensus on the electoral system have failed. A “consultation” at the presidential palace, to which “all actors of socio-political life” have been invited, has been tabled for 4 March. Given that the 12 May date itself is contested, and that for a vote on that date President Condé must convene the election on 3 March, this meeting appears to be taking place too late. Moreover, its vague details, the bloated list of invitees, and the fact that it was called by the territorial administration minister rather than the president itself offer scant reassurance to opposition politicians that the government – thus far reluctant to engage them in meaningful dialogue –  suddenly intends to do so.

The opposition’s withdrawal bodes ill for a peaceful and legitimate vote. The precise implications of the election commission pushing ahead with a May date – as the commission’s chair Bakary Fofana promises – without the consent of opposition-aligned commissioners, are troubling, if unclear. Nor is it clear what the opposition means by withdrawing from the current process while insisting it will not boycott the polls, or by its oft-repeated threat to “block” the vote. Non-participation rarely proves a successful strategy. The opposition risks being left without a voice in decisions related to electoral mechanics, like the revision of voter rolls. Its exclusion, and the resulting polarisation, will make it almost impossible to manage the conflicts that will inevitably arise during a contentious competition for power in a divided society with a recent violent past. Despite recent efforts by the judiciary to curb impunity, Guinea’s security forces have a long history of heavy-handed repression. A scrappy election could present restless officers, who only recently submitted to civilian rule, with opportunities for troublemaking. The cost of divisive and violent elections for the young democracy could be enormous.

A preferable course – as Crisis Group’s recent report recommended – would be to redouble efforts, while there is still time, to achieve at least a minimum consensus on the basic parameters for the vote. Both sides need to engage in a genuine dialogue and both need to give ground. President Condé, as incumbent, must demonstrate first his commitment to conciliatory politics. He needs to present opposition politicians with an alternative to either a boycott or passive acceptance of his will and offer a credible platform on which to engage them in direct conversations. He could, for example, concede to, and apply himself to raise funding for, the vote of the Guinean diaspora – who in 2010 comprised only just over 120,000 registered voters (of four million). In turn the opposition should take technical challenges seriously, in particular regarding the voter rolls, as it cannot afford to prove right those who accuse it of obstruction.

In working through the technical controversies, the UN Development Programme, the International Organisation of Francophonie and the European Union, who all provide assistance but have come under attack from one or the other side, are natural allies and should work on a joint intervention. Political engagement must accompany technical assistance: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), given its role during the transition two years ago, could offer its good offices to facilitate dialogue if necessary. Without urgent action, Guinea is headed towards a risky and divisive vote with grave implications for stability and the discredit of the entire political class.

19 Feb
"The road to the elections will be rocky, but it is crucial to keep friction to a minimum, maintain serious dialogue between the parties and rebuild trust in the electoral apparatus."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Guinea: A Way Out of the Election Quagmire