Amid political tensions over President Condé’s potential bid for re-election, demonstration turned violent and series of protests over living conditions broke out in several cities. Regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and UN representatives 3 July met with govt delegation in capital Conakry in attempt to break persistent deadlock between ruling party and opposition on framework of presidential election planned for Oct. Condé 8 July stated willingness to hold inclusive political dialogue with opposition. Meanwhile, coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) resumed anti-Condé protests despite govt’s ban in context of COVID-19. Violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators 20 July left at least 20 injured in Conakry; FNDC accused authorities of using “weapons of war” against protesters, while govt blamed violence on “groups of hooligans”. FNDC 29 July called for new protest 6 Aug. NGOs Amnesty International and Tournons la Page (TLP) 17 July jointly called for immediate release of FNDC activists Oumar Sylla and Saikou Yaya Diallo, arrested respectively in April on charges of “diffusion of false information” and May on charges of “assault, violence, threats and public insults”, and accused authorities of trying “to strangle dissident voices” through “arbitrary detention and judicial persecution”; security forces 19 July reportedly summoned TLP coordinator to Conakry central police station. Protests over electricity cuts and lack of access to water turned violent: clashes between protesters and ruling party supporters left several injured in Siguiri city (north east) 14 July; security forces 21 July arrested 22 protesters in Kankan city (east) after govt reportedly deployed army there; following outcry from civil society, all 22 were released 29 July. Authorities mid-July eased COVID-19 curfew in Conakry and reopened air borders, also extended state of emergency into Aug.
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