Guinea Since Independence
Independence – The Toure Years
In 1958 Guinea gained independence when it became the first and only French colony to vote against membership in the French Community. Sekou Toure, a leader in the campaign for independence, became its first president and remained in power until his death in 1984. Although Toure was originally known for his cross-ethnic nationalism, he came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in his party and the government.
Under Toure, Guinea became a one-party “dictatorship” with no tolerance for human rights or free expression, and in which all real and perceived political opponents were ruthlessly suppressed. Toure maintained a vast network of informants and, under his rule, thousands of real and perceived government critics were detained, tortured, and executed in public places. The most notorious of his detention facilities was Camp Boiro, where hundreds and possibly thousands perished. In response to the repression and “paranoia” of Toure’s regime tens of thousands of Guineans fled the country.
The Military Coup – The Conte Regime
In 1984, one week after the death of Sekou Toure, the Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN), led by Colonel Lansana Conte seized power through a military coup. With popular support, Conte quickly installed himself as Guinea’s second president and attempted to revitalize Guinea’s economy by promoting private and international investment.
A new constitution was ratified in 1991 and multiparty presidential elections were held in 1993, 1998 and 2003, though international observers did not consider these elections to be free and fair. Despite an initial push, the Conte government was slow to enact its promised changes to the economy and political system and civil unrest grew. In 1996, Conte’s regime survived an attempted coup as Guinea became entangled in civil wars occurring in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Tensions between Guinea and Sierra Leone and Liberia came to a head in late 2000 and early 2001 when the Liberian government, the Revolutionary United Front rebels from Sierra Leone and Guinean dissidents all joined forces to attack Guinea. More than 1,000 Guineans were killed and more than 100,000 were displaced. As the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia continued, several hundred thousand refugees flooded into Guinea, further souring relations between the countries.
In 2006, the labor unions launched strikes which turned deadly when security forces killed several protestors. In January 2007, numerous Guinean political groups, unions and civil society groups united in protest of the high cost of living and corruption in Conte’s government and demanded his resignation. Riots broke out in February 2007 when the people perceived that Conte reneged on promises of governmental change. In response to the January and February 2007 protests and riots, at least 129 people were killed and 1,700 were wounded, primarily by the security forces. Also in response to the February protests, the government declared a “state of siege,” conferring broad powers on the military and implementing a stict curfew. Although violent protests broke out again in May 2007, Conte remained the president until his death in December 2008.
A Second Coup – Moussa Dadis Camara and the September 28th Massacre
Within days of Lansana Conte’s death, a new military coup was launched, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. The coup established the supremacy of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) and installed Camara as president of the transitional government. Camara and the CNDD promised to hold elections within a year and vowed to crack down on government corruption.
By August of 2009, Camara announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in early 2010. Despite his assurances that members of the military junta, Camara included, would not run in the elections, rumors began to circulate that they would run regardless. Without reassurances to the contrary from the junta, opposition protests organized in earnest.
On September 28, 2009, tens of thousands of Guineans, the majority of whom were Fulanis, gathered in the national stadium to rally in protest of Camara’s potential candidacy. The peaceful protest turned into a massacre, as armed guards blocked the entrances and exits, other soldiers fired their weapons indiscriminately into the crowd of unarmed civilians. More than a 1,500 protesters were injured and at least 156 people were killed. Many Guinean women were viciously raped and mutilated by soldiers at gunpoint, some repeatedly, by gangs of soldiers roaming the crowds both inside and outside of the stadium. It was later determined that an organized cover-up was likely conducted by the government – Camara’s government claimed that only 57 people died during the protest.
Camara attempted to publicly distance himself from the massacre while banning all opposition gatherings. He reached out to the opposition to join in the formation of a unity government though his offer was rejected as he was perceived to be insincere.
On December 3rd, an assassination attempt on Camara led by Lieutenant Aboubacar Diakite narrowly failed. Camara, struck in the head by a bullet, was flown out of the country for surgery, leaving General Sekouba Konate in his place as interim president of the transitional government.
In early 2010, Camara – now effectively in exile – agreed to allow Konate to remain head of the transitional government and to allow the opposition party to select a prime minister. The transition government would oversee elections, which would occur within six months. Jean-Marie Dore was named interim prime minister.
2010 Presidential Election
The first round of voting in the presidential election was held on June 27, 2010. From a field of more than 20 candidates, Cellou Diallo and Alpha Conde received the most votes, though neither had the required majority of the votes to assume office. (Diallo received 44% and Conde received 18% of the vote.) After some delay, a run-off election was held on November 7, 2010. Conde – who had finished a distant second in the first-round voting – was declared the winner with 52.5% of the vote to Diallo’s 47.5%. Diallo and his supporters argued that his representatives were unable to observe the vote in two prefectures due to intimidation, and called on the election commission to nullify the vote in those areas. However, the Supreme Court certified the results, Diallo conceded, though he said he was unhappy with the Court’s rejection of his complaints. Alpha Conde assumed the office of the presidency on December 21, 2010.
All Information is from Encyclopedia Britannica http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/248802/Guinea
the U.S. State Department http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2824.htm
Human Rights Watch reports http://www.hrw.org/by-issue/publications/104
The report of the UN Commission of Inquiry http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/N0966259.pdf
An Amnesty International report http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR29/001/2010/en/ab0336e0-1ce8-4110-9203-302798ae21d0/afr290012010en.pdfA report by the Congressional Research Service http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40703.pdf