After opposition accused ruling party of fraud in 4 Feb local polls, opposition supporters and strikers clashed with security forces throughout month, at least ten killed. Local elections held for first time since 2005 4 Feb. Opposition next day accused President Condé and his supporters of fraud. In following days, opposition supporters clashed with Condé loyalists and security forces in several places including capital Conakry: young man killed in clashes in Kindia 5 Feb, five children killed in fire started during fighting in Dinguiraye 6 Feb. After teachers resumed strike 12 Feb, clashes between students and security forces in Conakry left two youths and one gendarme dead 12 and 19 Feb respectively. Electoral commission announced results 24 Feb with ruling party Rally for the Guinean People (RPG) winning majority; opposition disputed results. During general strike 26 Feb called by opposition, teachers and Guinea General Union of Workers (UGTG), opposition supporters clashed again with security forces, one protestor killed. Talks between govt and teachers’ union began 28 Feb, to continue 1 March.
Guinea approaches the second free presidential election in its history under difficult circumstances. Unless the government convenes a serious dialogue with the opposition, it risks electoral violence and exacerbating ethnic divisions.
Overdue legislative elections in Guinea could rapidly degenerate into violence in the absence of consensus on electoral procedures.
Rising piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which supplies around 40 per cent of Europe’s oil and 29 per cent of the U.S.’s, demands effective regional security cooperation and better economic governance to prevent the region becoming another Gulf of Aden. The full report is currently only available in French.
Unless Guinea’s main political actors agree on organising the pending legislative elections, there is a risk inter-communal tensions could spark violence that opens the army’s way back to power.
If the armed forces of Guinea are not reformed thoroughly, they will continue to pose a threat to democratic civilian rule and risk plunging the country and the region into chaos.
The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea’s stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
Originally published in The Guardian