Tag Archives: Guinea

Guinea’s Long-Delayed Elections Set to Take Place September 28

Posted on in Guinea title_rule

Guinea’s long-delayed legislative elections, which were scheduled to occur on Tuesday, have been postponed by four days to September 28 after talks were held on Saturday in Conakry between the opposition and the government.  The talks over the weekend come after Guinea’s main opposition leader threatened to call protests if officials went forwards with the elections without fully addressing the complaints pertaining to preparations.  The opposition has complained that the voter list contains a number of errors, effectively meaning that many of its supporters have been left off the list while some people have been registered several times.  It has also complained that polling stations in oppositions strongholds have been scattered far apart, meaning that voters would have to travel far and therefore would be less likely to vote.  Following Saturday’s talks, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the main opposition leader, has stated that although he wants a longer delay in order to fix the issues, he is satisfied with the compromised date of September 28.

The elections are meant to complete the country’s transition back to civilian rule however they have been repeatedly delayed since current President Alpha Conde was elected three years ago.  These delays have effectively created doubts about the political progress not only amongst Guineans, but investors and donor.  The West African nation’s economic growth forecast has been cut to 2.9 percent for this year, down from 4.5 percent.  This is a result of the protests and ongoing political issues.

Over the past several months, dozens of people have been killed in protests over the election preparations.  Furthermore, while this delay will allow organizers to address some of the issues, it is likely that the fundamental lack of trust between between the two sides and the election commission will continue, meaning that tensions are likely to simmer.

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Parliamentary Elections Go Ahead in Togo

Posted on in Africa title_rule

On Friday, officials in Togo began to tally up the votes after long-delayed parliamentary elections were held on 25 July.  On Thursday, voters had queued up in order to cast their ballots in what officials have indicated were mainly peaceful elections.  The head of the African Union’s observer mission, Guinea’s Prime Minister Kabine Komara, has indicated that the election process seemed smooth throughout the early hours of voting.  The polls come after months of protests which were backed by the opposition in its bid to weaken the ruling family’s decades-long grip on power.  Final results, along with a breakdown of the number of seats won by each party in the proportional electoral system, are not expected for another several days.  However the vote is seen as an indication of what will likely happen when presidential elections are held next year, with some experts indicating that yesterday’s elections could expose weaknesses in the grip of the Ganssingbe family which has ruled the country for more than four decades.

While the African Union observer mission indicated that the election process seemed smooth, roughly two hours after polling stations were opened on Thursday, the most   prominent opposition leader in the West African nation voiced his concerns over some initial issues however he noted that he was confident that the vote would be clear.  Jean Pierre Fabre, who is running for a parliamentary seat, indicated that several polling stations had opened after the agreed time of 0700 GMT and that ballot materials had not been delivered on schedule at a number of ballot stations.  Crowds of several hundred had built up at some of the polling stations, with some complaining that their names could not be found on the voter lists.

The polls mark the latest step in the country’s transition to a democracy after Gnassingbe Eyadema’s rule from 1967 to his death in 2005, when the military installed his son Faure Gnassingbe as president.  Since 2005, Faure Gnassingbe has won elections in 2005 and 2010 however the opposition has denounced both winnings as fraudulent.  Thursday’s elections are the first legislative polls to occur since 2007, when President Gnassingbe’s party won 50 of the 81 seats.  This time, ninety-one seats will be decided.  Since 2007, the polls have been rescheduled twice as mediators struggled to bring the government and opposition to an agreement.  A total of 1,174 candidates are standing in Thursday’s elections, with 159 women among them.



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Fighting Erupts in Guinea While the Body of a French Hostage is Flown Home

Posted on in Africa, Guinea, Mali title_rule

At least sixteen people have been burned alive or hacked to death with machetes, while dozens more have been wounded after two days of ethnic clashes took place in Guinea.  Meanwhile in Mali, the body of French hostage Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in Mali in 2011 and found dead several weeks ago, has been flown back to Paris on Wednesday after tests confirmed his identity.

The violence in the West African state broke out in the southern forest region early on Monday when petrol station guards from the Guerze tribe in the town of Koule beat to death an ethnic Konianke youth whom they had accused of stealing.  Fighting rapidly spread to the nearby provincial capital of N’Zerekore, which is located 570 kilometers (350 miles) southeast of Conakry.  Several homes have been destroyed as a result of the fighting.  According to Alert Damatang Camara, who is a government spokesman, “the violence recorded since Monday in Koule, and then in N’Zerekore, has left 16 people dead and some 80 wounded.”  He further indicated that security forces have been deployed “en masse” to the affected regions and that calm was beginning to return to the streets.  During a televised address to the nation, Guinea’s President called for calm and unity and has promised to bring those behind the violence to justice.

A number of witnesses have reported that members of the Guerzes and Koniankes tribes have been attacking one another with machetes, axes, sticks, stones and firearms, and that some of the houses and cars in the region had been set on fire.  Communal violence has been common in the region, which is located near the border with Liberia, where clashes between the two tribes regularly break out over religious and other grievances.  The indigenous Guerze are mostly Christian or animist, while the Konianke are Muslims who are considered to be close to Liberia’s Mandingo ethnic community.  During Liberia’s civil war, which concluded in 2003, rebels fighting the forces of then-president Charles Taylor drew much of their support from the Mandingo community.  The Guerze, who are known as Kpelle in Liberia, were generally considered to be supporters of forces who were loyal to Taylor who was jailed last year for “aiding and abetting” war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

According to sources on the ground in Paris, France, relatives and loved ones of Mr. Verdon gathered in a private room at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport in order to retrieve the body, which was flown back on an Air France plane that landed around 0700 GMT.  The French foreign ministry had announced on Sunday that Mr. Verdon’s body had likely been found at the beginning of July.  This is months later after the 53-year-old’s captors had announced in March that they had killed him, however at the time, officials in Paris had never confirmed his death.  On Tuesday, the French president’s office confirmed that the body found in northern Mali was that of Mr. Verdon, however no information surrounding the details of his death have been released.   An autopsy has been scheduled in order to determine exactly how he died.  Mr. Verdon was known to have suffered from an ulcer and tachycardia when he had left for Mali in 2011.  According Pascal Lupart, head of a support committee for Mr. Verdon, “for us, its possible that Philippe died because of his illnesses and that AQIM used this and staged a killing.”

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Breakthrough in Talks Over Legislative Elections in Guinea

Posted on in Africa, Guinea title_rule

A United Nations envoy has confirmed that Guinea’s government and opposition parties have made a breakthrough during talks that were held over the weekend, which could result in an end to the violent political demonstrations and pave the way for legislative elections to take place.  More than fifty people have been killed in the past three months in protests which have been organized by activists who accuse President Alpha Conde of preparing to rig the polls which are scheduled to take place on 30 June 2013.

Over the past weekend, President Conde’s government along with Guinea’s opposition parties have been meeting at UN-mediated talks which have focused on the organization of the long-delayed legislative elections.  Said Djinnit, a UN envoy who mediated the talks between the government and opposition parties in the coastal capital city of Conakry, indicated that the parties had made significant progress over their demands and that there was reason for hope.  Djinnit further indicated that in return for some guarantees, Guinea’s opposition parties have agreed to rejoin the electoral process and have dropped their demands for South African company Waymark, which was charged with updating the voter register, being replaced.  The opposition had initially accused the company of filling the electoral roll with the names of President Conde’s ethnic Malinke supporters.  However the company has denied these charges.  The opposition parties had also called for Guineans living overseas to be given the right to vote.  Djinnit has indicated that “regarding the vote of Guineans abroad, the presidential camp, which had reservations on the issue, have lifted their opposition.  It has agreed that Guineans living abroad could participate in elections.”  He further stated that decisions stemming from the talks could affect the date of the election.

While a spokesman for Guinea’s government could not be immediately reached for comment, a spokesman for the opposition noted that a minimum consensus had been reached and that the parties were waiting for concrete actions from both the government and Guinea’s electoral commission.  However Aboubacar Sylla, the opposition spokesman, did state that “we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic.”

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has indicated that the UN Chief was “encouraged” by the progress that was made during the multi-party political dialogue.  In a statement that was released by the UN, his spokesperson stated that ‘the Secretary-General welcomes the constructive spirit in which Guinean parties have pursued the dialogue..” and that he “encourages the parties to build on this positive atmosphere in order to resolve outstanding issues and create the conditions for free, fair and peaceful legislative elections.”  The United States’ State Department has also welcomed the agreement that was reached between the political parties.

Guinea has been without a functioning legislature for years while the country’s economy remains to be at a standstill.  Following a military coup in December 2008, political instability in Guinea has deterred a number of investors, despite the country’s large deposits of iron ore, bauxite, gold and other minerals.  Although Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, a metal that is used to produce aluminium, the country remains to be amongst the world’s poorest nations.  Investor confidence has been undermined by repeated clashes which have occurred since March of this year.

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