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All Quiet in Guinea After Coup, Say Bloggers

Confusion reigned in Conakry following the passing of President Lansana Conte and an apparently successful coup led by Guinean General Moussa Dadis Camara.

Conte had ruled Guinea with an iron fist for a quarter of a century.  His hold on power seemed to have weakened in recent years, during which he has lived largely a recluse, reportedly suffering from diabetes.

Guinea, with 10 million inhabitants, is the world's first producer of bauxite. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world despite its mineral resources.

The main question, as described by Le Pangolin, in an interview with Serge Michel, a Swiss journalist specializing in African affairs, is whether or not the situation will degrade into a blood bath:

“L'état de la Guinée est très mauvais. Le pays n'a pas été géré depuis des années. Il y a un vide au sommet de l'Etat. Le pouvoir n'était plus exercé par le Président mais par ses proches conseillers qui étaient d'ailleurs régulièrement renouvelés. De plus, le pays est rongé par une très grande corruption. Contrairement à beaucoup d'Etats africains, la Guinée n'a pas connu la guerre civile, pourtant, quand on voit l'état de délabrement dans lequel est le pays, on a l'impression que la guerre est passée par là. A Conakry, la capitale, les bâtiments tombent en ruine, la ville semble avoir été laissée à l'abandon. En ce qui concerne les institutions politiques, elles sont extrêmement faibles et n'ont pas la force de résister à une tentative de coup d'Etat. Les militaires ont un véritable boulevard devant eux. La question aujourd'hui est de savoir si la situation va dégénérer en bain de sang ou non.”

“The situation in Guinea is dire. The country has not been managed in years. There is a void at the head of the state. Power was not held by the President, but by close advisers who were regularly replaced. The country is ravaged by a very great corruption. As opposed to many African states, Guinea has not had any civil war, however when one considers the country's ruined state, one thinks it has been left abandoned. As to political institutions, they are extremely weak, and do not have the strength to resist a coup. Soldiers have a free road in front of them. The question today is to know whether the situation will degenerate into a bloodbath or not.”

The coup was led by a previously unknown captain, Moussa Davis Camara, who cited “general corruption”, impunity and anarchy, economical catastrophes to justify the dissolution of the government and the suspension of the constitution.

“Nous sommes là pour promouvoir l'organisation d'élections présidentielles crédibles et transparentes d'ici la fin décembre 2010″, a ajouté le capitaine Camara. Mardi, lors de sa première allocution à la nation, il avait annoncé que ces élections auraient lieu d'ici deux mois. “

“We are here to promote the organization of free, credible and transparent presidential elections by the end of December 2010,” Captain Camara added. Tuesday, during his first address to the nation, he had announced that these elections would take place within two months.”

However the Prime Minister, Ahmed Tidiane Souare, has also said the government was still firmly in place and was preparing the funerals of the president.

France, the US and the rest of the international community have expressed their preference for a better political resolution than a coup.

“This seizure of power constitutes a flagrant violation of the Guinean constitution,” the African Union said in a statement.

On Aminata.com, Sambégou Diallo lifts the confusion and reports that “it is done”, Moussa Dadis Camara is now the third president of the republic of Guinea.

“Le cortège présidentiel vient de s'ébranler en direction de Kaloum. Il est exactement 15 heures TU. Les membres du Conseil national de démocratie et de développement ont préféré faire le tour de la capitale, passant par le centre commercial de Madina, puis Dixinn, Coléah, le Camp Almamy Samory, (dans Kaloum) avant de prendre la direction de Sekhoutoureya, et puis… et enfin le camp Koundara.

Le cortège devrait vraisemblablement revenir, après cette extraordinaire parade, revenir au palais de la Colombe pour installer le capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara dans ses nouvelles et exaltantes fonctions de président de la République.”

“The presidential motorcade has just left in direction of Kaloum. It is exactly 15 hours Universal Time. The members of the National Council of Democracy and Development have prefered to tour the capital, passing by the commercial center of Madina, then Dixinn, Coleah, then the Almamy Samory camp, (in Kaloum), before taking the direction of Sekhoutoureya, and the… the Koundara camp.

The motorcade should probably come back, after this extraordinary parade, to the palace of Colombe to install captain Moussa Dadis Camara in his new and exalted role as President of the Republic.”

While newspapers report that the coup leaders are firmly in charge of the national broadcasting headquarters and are occupying many strategic buildings across the city, Guinean bloggers report that all is quiet :

Henri Willox says :

“Ici, dans la banlieue de Conakry, tout un chacun vaque à ses occupations et la vie se déroule comme d'habitude, sauf que nous avons encore de l'électricité alors qu'habituellement, elle est coupée vers six heures du matin.
Il n'y a pas eu un seul coup de feu de toute la nuit, et la population se dit plutôt heureuse de la prise du pouvoir par de jeunes militaires.”

“Here in the suburb of Conakry, everyone goes about one's daily business, and life is the same, apart from the fact that we still have power, while usually, there is an interruption around six in the morning.

There has been no shots during the night, and the residents express their rather favorable view of the power grab by the young soldiers. “

Association des Ressortissants et Sympathisants de Fria reports the same quiet :

“Tout est calme à Fria, les gens se sont rendus au travail comme si c'était un jour normal. La plupart des commerces sont restés ouverts et il n'y a eu aucune précipitation, malgré quelques personnes désireuses de faire des provisions pour le réveillon de demain. Même les enfants ont voulu aller à l'école, mais ils ont été renvoyés à la maison. Les soldats sont dans les casernes et il n'y a pas de mouvement de troupes dans la ville.
L'annonce du décès a été faite vers 2 heures du matin. Ils ont attendu que les gens dorment pour éviter les rassemblements dans les rues. Mais la nouvelle a de toutes façons été accueillie presque dans l'indifférence. Les gens sont tellement fatigués à cause de la crise économique guinéenne et mondiale, qu'il n'y a pas eu de réaction excessive. “

“All is quiet in Fria, people went to work as on any other day. Most shops were open and there was no panic, although some people went shopping for tomorrow's wake. Even kids wanted to go to school, but they were sent back home. Soldiers are in their barracks, and there were no troops in town.

They announced the passing around two in the morning. They waited for people to sleep to avoid rallying in the streets. But the news were met with indifference. People are so tired of the economic crisis in Guinea and around the world, there were no excessive reactions.”

One reader, Bali de Yeimberein, hopes for change :

“De manière succinte, il faut espérer que des militaires réellement épris de justice sociale, de paix et visionnaires arrivent aux affaires et garantissent une authentique transition en veillan à une TOTALE REFONDATION de la Guinée (ses institutions, leurs modes de fonctionnement mais surtout une nouvelle mentalité) le tout dans un environnement d'ETAT DE DROIT.
Ce sont des préalables à tout retour de la Guinée d'abord à une situation de PAYS (normal) puis, dans un second temps, se donner les chances de pénétrer le champ du concert des Nations.
Victime de prédation sans précédent, saignée à blanc, vidée de toutes ses ressources (agricoles, minières) dévoyée de ses ressources humaines, la Guinée risque de ne JAMAIS se remettre de CINQUANTE ANS de dictature et gabegie. Ces lignes seront-elles lues par un des futurs (?) responsables du pays?”

“Succinctly, one has to hope that soldiers who are really hungering for social justice, peace and possess vision, will handle affairs and warrant an authentic transition, while keeping in mind a COMPLETE REDO of Guinea (its institutions, modus operandi, but also a new mentality), all in an environment where laws are applied.

These are preconditions to any return of Guinea to a situation of normal country, then in a second time, to give Guinea chances to join other nations.

Guinea has been the victim of unprecedented exploitation, emptied of any resources (human, mineral and agricultural), Guinea risks to NEVER recover from FIFTY YEARS of dictature and anarchy. Will these lines be read by any future official of the country?”

One blogger rejoices in Conte's passing :

“Enfin, le tyran est parti après 24 ans de règne. Délivrance générale !”

“Finally, the tyrant is gone after 24 years of reign. Good riddance !”

A feeling echoed by JT, a Global Voices reader:

“Now it is ended. Conte has died. That’s that. And now it begins. Now begins the hard work. Now the people of Guinea must seize their nation and their destiny. The oppressor is gone. Do not allow another dictator to take his throne. With much love and hope for the best for all of the people of Guinea,JT

Maintenant il est fini. Conte est mort. C’est ca.  Et maintenant il commence. Commence maintenant le dur labeur. Maintenant les personnes de la Guinée doivent saisir leur nation et leur destin. L’oppresseur est allé. Ne permettez pas à un autre dictateur de prendre son trône. Avec beaucoup d’amour et d’espoir pour le meilleur pour toutes les personnes de Guinée, JT”

Although Alseny Ndiaye wonders if the Guinean people's attitude, and Africans’ in general, does not have a responsibility in turning their leaders into tyrants:

“Les africains en général et ceux de l’Ouest en particulier, ont une tendance exagérée à personnifier le pouvoir et à le diviniser. Cela se manifeste à tous les niveaux. Du jour au lendemain, un homme ordinaire, de par son arrivée au pouvoir, est perçu comme un envoyé de Dieu ; on lui crédite de pouvoirs extraordinaires, d’intelligence hors du commun, de visionnaire. On le cite dans les propos les plus banals voire farfelus. On lui attribue la paternité de toutes les idées jugées bonnes, de toutes les citations, de tous les projets. Imaginez un président inculte qui a de la peine même pour écrire son nom, et qui se retrouve subitement « auteur » d’une œuvre littéraire, philosophique voire économique !.”

“Africans in general, and Western Africans in particular, have an exagerrated tendency to personify power and render it godlike. This can seen at all levels. From one day to the next, an ordinary man, by his arriving to power, is thought of as a God send ; one gives him extraordinary powers, uncommon intelligence, he is thought a visionary. One cites him in all most ordinary talks. One attributes him the origin of all presumed good ideas, all citations, all projects. Imagine an unlearned president who has even problems writing his hame, and finds himself suddenly the “author” of a literary, philosophical, economical work.”

Some readers of the daily French newspaper Le Monde worry that the fate of Guinea after their strong man's passing may predict other African countries’ :
Turgot comments:

“Le pire est que ce qui se passe (de façon totalement prévisible) en Guinée est plus ou moins la reproduction de ce qui s’est passé en Côte d’Ivoire à la mort d’Houphouët (pas de succession préparée et guerre des héritiers) et préfigure ce qui se passera dans un certain nombre d’autres pays africains à la mort de leurs présidents: Cameroun (Biya), Gabon (Bongo), Tchad (Déby), et même peut-être Sénégal à la mort de Wade (encore que ce pays connaît un semblant de tradition démocratique).”

“The worst thing is that what is happening (in completely predictable ways) in Guinea is more or less the reproduction of what happened in Cote d'Ivoire after Hophouet's death (no prepared succession and war amongst the heirs) and predicts what will happen in some other African countries after their presidents’ death: Cameroon (Biya), Gabon (Bongo), Tchad (Deby), and even perhaps Senegal, when Wade passes (even though this country knows what passes as democratic traditions).”

5 comments

  • Somehow, it seems as if there is a positive attitude towards this coup, and it was more a question of “when” rather than “if”. I am holding my fingers crossed, and hope that we will not see the eruption of violence and war as in certain other places, and that the transition will be somehow peaceful. At least it seems like it is pointing in that direction right now, luckily!

  • […] named a banker named Kabine Komara as their prime minister. According to bloggers, the situation remains calm after the coup and Guineans in general appear to be hopeful of their new leader. Zot in Guinea, a Peace Corps […]

  • Mohamed Wurie Jalloh

    Perceptive article!
    Guineans have maintained peace but at what price!
    Sierra Leone had a decade of civil war and so did Liberia but those two countries are noe fledgling democracies! I wish Guinea and Guineans peace but sooner or later Guineans will have to truly stand up for the principle of democratic rule-the only true basis for accountable governance. Leadership that is accountable to a sovereign electorate via the individual power of one person one vote is what will give Guinea and Guineans a well managed and accountable politic-economic system that match that country’s abundant mineral wealth(bauxite, iron, diamonds,etc.)
    A Captain of any hue can only be a stop gap measure.
    Vive La Guinee democratique!
    Vive L’Afrique democratique!
    Wurie Jalloh
    Lynn (Boston) USA
    Vive L’Afrique democratique!

  • […] kekuasaan melalui kudeta tak berdarah tepat sembilan bulan lalu, sekitar satu hari setelah  meninggalnya diktator Lansana Conté, pada mulanya memberikan harapan besar pada rakyat Guinea. Karena dia masih muda, dididik di luar […]

  • […] con un colpo di stato senza spargimento di sangue nove mesi fa, subito dopo la morte del dittatore Lansana Conté [in], inizialmente aveva alimentato grandi speranze nei guineani. Ciò perchè era giovane, aveva […]

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