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Guinea : Waiting for Presidential Elections

Despotic Lansana Conte who governed Guinea with an iron fist died in December 2008 after 24 years of power. In the wake of his death, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara grabbed power in a coup in December 2008.  On 28 September 2009, a horrific massacre took place in a stadium. It was a rally protesting any attempt by Camara to become President, as Camara had initially promised not to run before changing his mind. The New York Times reports:
“…although many branches of security forces were involved, the presidential guard “Red Berets,”  led by Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite, were exceptionally responsible for the violence, firing on, knifing, bayonetting, and gang-raping the fleeing civilians, killing at least 157 people (U.N) and injuring at least 1,200 not just in the stadium but as many fled on streets”.
“Soldiers, many from the Presidential Guard, burst into the stadium and fired at close range on the thousands of people who had gathered there in a carnival-like atmosphere, dancing and praying. Once the troops ran out of ammunition, they attacked the unarmed civilians with daggers, bayonets, bludgeons and even catapults, the report said. People scattered in every direction, and those who paused to help the wounded were gunned down.”
On 3 December 2009,  Camara was shot by Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite and was flown to Morocco for medical care. On January 12, 2010 Camara was flown from Morocco to Burkina Faso.
Camara, his deputy Konaté and Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, met in Ouagadougou and agreed on twelve principles to help Guinea return to civilian rule within six months. The agreement stated that the military would not contest the results of presidential elections  and Camara would stay exiled. On 21 January 2010 Jean-Marie Doré , the leader of the opposition coalition,  which is called the Forces Vives, became Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, responsible for holding the elections and composed of  “10 ministers each from the
military junta, the opposition and the different regions of the country”, in the words of the NYT.
Hope mixed with anxiety reign in Guinea with the announcement of presidential elections to be held on June 27, 2010. These elections are already touted as historic, the first free elections in Guinea since its independence in 1957.
Out of 36 candidates filed with the Supreme Court, 23 men and one woman have been accepted and will be on the ballots at the presidential elections.
The blog Le jour de Guinee has short bios for all the candidates.
Electoral campaign has already started.  According to Jeune Afrique :
“Les candidats n’ont d'ailleurs pas attendu l’ouverture officielle de la campagne – le 17 mai – pour commencer la chasse aux électeurs. Dès la fin de mars, les posters des présidentiables étaient placardés dans Conakry : murs, poteaux, arbres, quasi aucun support n’est épargné. Beaux jours en tout cas pour les colleurs d’affiches. « En une seule journée, la semaine dernière, j’ai fait plus de 100?000 francs guinéens [environ 15 euros] », se réjouit Jean Soumah, chômeur de son état. Les imprimeries locales sont débordées. Émissions interactives, interviews des candidats, caravanes, tee-shirts, matchs de football, meetings, agences de communication surbookées : il n’y en a plus que pour la présidentielle.”
Candidates have not waited for the official launch of the campaign – May 17 – to start courting voters. Since end March, posters of the candidates have been hung in Conakry : walls, posts, trees, any support that could be used. Beautiful days for hangers. “In a single day, last week, I made more than 100 000 Guinea Francs [about 15 euros], rejoiced Jean Soumah, a jobless man. Local printers are overwhelmed. Interactive shows, candidate interviews, trucks, tee shirts, soccer games, meetings, communication agencies are overbooked : everything is about the presidential elections”
Who are the candidates?
“Il y a les favoris –Alpha Condé, Cellou Dalein Diallo, Sidya Touré  –, les challengers – François Fall et Lansana Kouyaté –, et pléthore de seconds couteaux. Parmi eux, quelques
figures bien connues, comme Ousmane Bah, ennemi juré de Cellou Dalein Diallo?; Aboubacar Somparé, le candidat du Parti de l’unité et du progrès (PUP) de l’ancien président
Lansana Conté; Mamadou Sylla, riche homme d’affaires dont le staff est convaincu qu’il sera « à la Guinée ce que Reagan a été à l’Amérique »; Ousmane Kaba, dissident du parti de Sidya Touré; Kassory Fofana, ancien ministre des Finances de Lansana Conté, qui se définit comme le candidat de la transparence ; l’ancien fonctionnaire international-Almamy Ibrahima Barry, qui n’est pas peu fier d’être le seul Guinéen à avoir osé déclarer sa candidature en 2008 sous Conté.
Alpha Condé, patron du Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée (RPG), persécuté par Conté et longtemps en exil, a fait un retour triomphal le 10 avril à Conakry, où il a été accueilli par une foule énorme (plus de 1 million de personnes, selon son parti). Son principal fief est la Haute-Guinée. ” Il est vu en martyr », admettent quelques-uns de ses rivaux à
la magistrature suprême.” Jeune Afrique
Leading candidates are Alpha Condé, Cellou Dalein Diallo, Sidya Touré, the challengers are  François Fall et Lansana Kouyaté, and a plethora of second fiddlers. Amongst those, some well known personalities, like Ousmane Bah, Cellou Dalein Diallo's archenemy; Aboubacar Sompare, a candidate of the PArti de l'unite et du progres (Party of unity and progress) of the former president Lansana Conté;  Mamadou Sylla, wealthy businessman whose staff are convinced he will be to Guinea what Reagan was to America; Ousmane Kaba, a dissident of Sidya Toure's party;Kassory Fofana, former Finance Minister of Lansana Conté, who defines himself as the candidate of the transparency; former international civil servant Almamy Ibrahima Barry who is not a little proud to be the only Guinean to have dared announce his candidacy in 2008 under Conté.  Alpha Condé, leader of the RPG (Assembly of the people of Guinea), persecuted by Conté and an long time exilee, has returned triumphantly on April 10 in Conakry, where he has been welcomed by a gigantic crowd (according to his party more than a million persons). His stronghold is Haute Guinee. “He is considered a martyr”, admit some of his rivals to presidency.
Among the candidates are also three close allies to Dadis Camara who were implicated in the stadium massacre : Boubacar Barry, Papa Kolie Kouroumah and Bouna Keita.
Getting to the 27 june date has not been easy and Guineans seem uncertain that elections will not be postponed.
One post on Sylvie K's blog hints the June 27 date will not be honored.
“De nombreux signes laissent présager un éventuel report de l'élection présidentielle prévue pour le 27 juin 2010.
En effet, le Général Sékouba KONATE et certains de ses proches sont entrain de souffler le chaud et le froid:
d'une part, mettre tout le monde en confiance pour le respect de la date du 27/06/2010;
et d'autre, se servir du nom des forestiers pour faire planer une menace sur le processus de transition en cours.
La réalité est qu'ils ne veulent pas quitter le pouvoir et pour ce faire, il faut trouver des boucs émissaires bien entendu dans le milieu naturel du Président Dadis CAMARA.
En lieu et place des préparatifs de l'élection présidentielle pour respecter la date indiquée et avoir les résultats des élections libres, transparentes et acceptées de tous, nous assistons à une machination diabolique destinée à mettre en cause la concorde, l'unité nationale et la cohésion sociale.
Il est vrai que nous avons toutes et tous hâtes d'amorcer le changement, est-ce une raison pour nous faire avaler n'importe quoi? Je réponds non. Nous voulons d'une démocratie sans violence, oui c'est possible. Il suffit pour cela dans le contexte actuel, à défaut de la tenue d'une conférence de réconciliation nationale, d'éviter la tenue de tout propos susceptible d'entraver une transition apaisée souhaitée par tous.”
There are many signs that predict a potential reschedule of the presidential elections to be held on June 21 2010. General Sekouba Konate and some of his close allies are trying to make the rules:- on one hand, get people to believe the date of June 27, 2010 will be respected.- on the other hand, use the name of the foresters to hint at threats on the transition process in place. The truth is they do not want to leave power and are finding scapegoats in the surroundings of President Dadis CAMARA.  Instead of preparing the presidential elections on the agreed upon date, and hold free, transparent and agreed by all elections, we are witnessing a diabolical manipulation destined to put in place discord, tear apart national unity and social cohesion. It is true we want change but is it a reason to make us believe anything? I think not. We want a democracy without violence, yes it is possible. For this, in the actual situation, if there is no national reconciliation conferences held, to avoid any words that may hinder a peaceful transition that we all wish. 

An anxiety echoed on Guinee50 where doubts are not about the military's willingness to relinquish power but on the electoral process (fr):

“Mais, est-ce vraiment possible pendant que les principaux acteurs impliqués à savoir les partis politiques, rejettent le fichier électoral entaché de fraudes pré-électorales
ainsi que tant d'autres irrégularités?
Rien n'est sûr encore. La CENI ne fait que trébuchér et le plus gros risque que l'on minimise aujourd'hui- s'il y a report du scrutin – c'est bien la santé du Président de la transition: le Général Sékouba Konaté. C'est une préoccupation majeure qui doit être prise en compte car c'est la seule garantie pour la réussite de la transition. A chaque fois qu'il effectue un déplacement à l'étranger il reçoit des soins ce qui justifie d'ailleurs ses longs séjours.
Nous ferons bien si ce décret résistera aux contestations fondées dans une certaines mesures sur de éléments essentiels d'une élection crédible, transparente et acceptable.Ce qui est sûr à lumière de ce décret, c'est la volonté du Général à céder le fauteuil. Le moins sûr est la capacité de la CENI à présenter d'ici la date prévue, une liste acceptable même si celle-ci n'est pas complète car elle ne sera jamais.”
Will the elections be possible while principal actors, meaning the political parties, reject the voters’ list with many pre election frauds and many other irregularities? Nothing is certain yet. The CENI (Note of the author : Electoral committee) has kept stumbling and the greatest risk, minimized today if there is a rescheduling of the elections, is the state of health of the Transition President : General Sekouba Konate. This major concern has to be taken into account, because it is the only warranty for transition to succeed. Each time he is abroad, he gets medical care, which justifies his long stays. We will do great if this resolution resists to the founded arguments based on the lack of essential conditions to trustworthy, transparent and acceptable elections. What is sure, is the General's will to cede power. The least certain is the CENI's ability to present an acceptable, even if incomplete, voters’ list by the scheduled date.
Yet another  comment on Sylvie's blog revolts and does not agree that elections should be held in any conditions:
“Pauvre de nous,nous n'avons plus que nos yeux pour pleurer !
Selon mes informations la populatin à n'zérékoré avoisinerait les 800 000 habitant.Ce président à la solde de la françafrique qu'on veut nous imposer pour finaliser le bradage de la guinée est tout simplement révoltant.Il parait :”Qu'il vaut mieux une election imparfaite à une election reporter.C'est tout dire ! Je suis tout simplement outrée d'entendre de tels propos.Que Dieu protège la guinée et les véritables patriotes qui se battant pour le rayonnement de cette belle nation que nous aimons tant.Amen !”
Poor us, we only have our eyes left to cry with !According to my sources, the N'Zerekore population would be close to 800 thousands. This president working for the Francafrique that they want to impose on us to finalize the cheap sale of Guinea is simply revolting. They say “Better an imperfect election than a rescheduled one.” That says it all ! I am simply outraged to hear this. May God protect Guinea and the true patriots who fight for the glory of this beautiful nation we love so much. Amen!
Other voters communicate their thirst for “clean” candidates.
“je doute de la moralité des candidats qui n'ont jamais travaillé pour l'administration et qui se reclament avoir les mains propres.on ignore tout de leur passé,la plupart d'entre eux n'ont pas occupé de grands postes;donc rien ne prouve s'ils sont propres ou pas,en plus quelle experience de l'Etat ont-ils?où etaient-ils pendant que les autres se faisaient bastonner par les fous de Dadis le 28 septembre? on apprend pas à diriger une fois arrivé au pouvoir. le plus important pour moi,c'est de servir le pays et en sortir les mains propres.je voterai pour un homme dans cette situation”.
“I doubt morality of candidates who have never held public office and who claim to have their hands clean. We know nothing of their past, most of them have not held high responsibility positions; nothing proves that they are honest or not, and what public office experience do they have? Where were they when others were getting murdered by Dadis's crazies on Sseptember 28? One does not learn to lead once in power. The most important thing for me, is to serve the country and leave power with clean hands. I will vote for a similar man.”
Dadis Camara retains supporters who wonder about his fate, the captain who did the Christmas coup, under whose watch the stadium massacre took place, himself a victim of assassination attempt, and who is now a convalescent exiled in Burkina Faso.
“…quel sort réserve-t-on au capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara président de la république et président du CNDD ?
Cet homme que nous soutenons depuis janvier 2009, victime injuste d’une tentative d’assassinat le 03 décembre 2010 ; et aujourd’hui en exil forcé au Burkina-Faso. Par le bon
vouloir de la France de Sarkozy ; et la volonté de Kouchner.
C’est pour réclamer haut et fort son retour dans son pays, ici et maintenant ; que nous sommes rassemblés ce matin ; criant notre colère et notre indignation face au silence complice des autorités guinéennes ; et l’indifférence de la communauté internationale.
Cosignataire des accords de Ouagadougou, il nous paraît incongru et injuste que celui-là même qui est le père de cette transition pacifique, soit absent du territoire national.
Source de frustrations pour ses milliers de partisans que nous sommes, humiliés à travers leur idole Dadis Camara. “
“Which fate has been reserved to captain Moussa Dadis Camara, president of the Republic and president of the CNDD? This man we are supporting since January 2009, unfairly a victim of a murder attempt on december 3, 2010, and now in forced exile in Burkina Faso. By the will of Sarkozy's and Kouchner's France. We are demanding his return to the country, here and now ; we rallied this morning, shouting our wrath to the complicit silence of the Guinean authorities; the international community's indifference. As a cosigner of the Ouagadougou agreements, it appears unfair and weird that the one who was the father of this peaceful transition should be absent from the nation. It is frustrating to his thousands of supporters, humiliated through the treatment of their idol Dadis Camara.”
France is finding herself accused of meddling and wanting to establish her own man in gas rich Guinea insists she is not supporting anybody in particular.
“Ce scrutin historique n'appartient qu'aux Guinéens. La France, aux côtés de ses autres partenaires, apporte toute sa contribution pour soutenir le processus électoral. Elle ne soutient aucun candidat.”
These historical elections belong to Guineans only. France, with her other partners, brings her support to complete the electoral process. France does not favor any candidate”
On Guinee50, an appeal is done to vote without ethnic concerns.
“La Guinée, c'est Nous les Jeunes. Ensemble,Refusons en bloc tout Vote Ethnique ce jour Historique du 27 juin”
Guinea belongs to us, young people. Together, let us reject ethnic vote on the historical day of June 27.

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