Politics of Guinea

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Guinea

Politics of Guinea takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guinea is both head of state and head of government of Guinea. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly.

Political history

Conté era (1984-2008)

A military dictatorship, led by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conté and styling itself the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN), took control of Guinea in April 1984, shortly after the death of independent Guinea's first president, Sékou Touré. With Conté as president, the CMRN set about dismantling Touré's oppressive regime, abolishing the authoritarian constitution, dissolving the sole political party and its mass youth and women's organizations, and announcing the establishment of the Second Republic. The new government released all political prisoners and committed itself to the protection of human rights. In order to reverse the steady economic decline under Touré's rule, the CMRN reorganized the judicial system, decentralized the administration, promoted private enterprise, and encouraged foreign investment

In 1990, Guineans approved by referendum a new constitution that inaugurated the Third Republic, and established a Supreme Court. In 1991, the CMRN was replaced by a mixed military and civilian body, the Transitional Council for National Recovery (CTRN), with Conté as president and a mandate to manage a five-year transition to full civilian rule. The CTRN drafted laws to create republican institutions and to provide for independent political parties, national elections, and freedom of the press. Political party activity was legalized in 1992, when more than 40 political parties were officially recognized for the first time.

In December 1993, Conté was elected to a 5-year term as president in the country's first multi-party elections, which were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. In 1995, Conté's ruling PUP party won 76 of 114 seats in elections for the National Assembly amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering. In 1996, President Conté reorganized the government, appointing Sidya Touré to the revived post of Prime Minister and charging him with special responsibility for leading the government's economic reform program. In the early hours of 23 December 2008, Aboubacar Somparé, the President of the National Assembly, announced on television that Conté had died at 6:45pm local time on 22 December "after a long illness", [1] without specifying the cause of death. [2]

According to Somparé, Conté "hid his physical suffering" for years "in order to give happiness to Guinea." [2] Conté had left the country for medical treatment on numerous occasions in the years preceding his death, [1] and speculation about his health had long been widespread. Contrary to his usual practice, Conté did not appear on television to mark Tabaski earlier in December 2008, and this sparked renewed speculation, as well as concern about the possibility of violence in the event of his death. At around the same time, a newspaper published a photograph suggesting that Conté was in poor physical condition and having difficulty standing up. The editor of that newspaper was arrested and the newspaper was required to print a photograph in which Conté looked healthy. [2]

According to the constitution, the President of the National Assembly was to assume the Presidency of the Republic in the event of a vacancy, and a new presidential election was to be held within 60 days. [1] Somparé requested that the President of the Supreme Court, Lamine Sidimé, declare a vacancy in the Presidency and apply the constitution. [1] [3] Prime Minister Souaré and Diarra Camara, the head of the army, stood alongside Somparé during his announcement. [2] [4] The government declared 40 days of national mourning [5] and Camara called on soldiers to remain calm. [6]

2008 coup and following

Six hours after Somparé announced Conté's death, a statement was read on television announcing a military coup d'état. [7] This statement, read by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara [8] on behalf of a group called National Council for Democracy, [7] said that "the government and the institutions of the Republic have been dissolved". The statement also announced the suspension of the constitution "as well as political and union activity". [8] In its place, the military said it had established a consultative council composed of civilian and military leaders. [9]

On 27 September 2009, the day before planned demonstrations in the capital city Conakry, the government declared demonstrations illegal. Thousands of protestors defied the ban, assembling in a soccer stadium. 157 were left dead after the level of violence used by security forces escalated. [10] Captain Moussa (Dadis) Camara told Radio France International on 28 September the shootings by members of his presidential guard were beyond his control. "Those people who committed those atrocities were uncontrollable elements in the military," he said. "Even I, as head of state in this very tense situation, cannot claim to be able to control those elements in the military." [10]

On 3 December 2009 Captain Moussa Dadis Camara suffered a head wound in an attempted assassination in Conakry led by his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, who is known as Toumba. Captain Camara underwent surgery at a hospital in Morocco. Reports say Toumba's men opened fire on Captain Camara late Thursday at an army camp in the city of Conakry. [11]

In a document released in 2010, an unknown source spoke with an U.S. diplomat and described the "ethnicization" of Guinea and the risk of conflict and violence like in Rwanda. He stated that Dadis Camara has recruited mercenaries from South Africa and Israel and assembled them, along with some of his own men, in Forecariah, in the ethnically Sussu region in the west of the country, while Dadis was from the Forest region to the east. His militia numbered 2,000-3,000 and was armed with weapons from Ukraine. The risk of conflict and destabilization threatened the entire region, he said. [12]

After a meeting in Ouagadougou on 13 and 14 January, Camara, Konaté and Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, produced a formal statement of twelve principles promising a return of Guinea to civilian rule within six months. It was agreed that the military would not contest the forthcoming elections. [13] On 21 January 2010 the military junta appointed Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, leading up to elections. [14]

2010 elections

The presidential election was set to take place on 27 June and 18 July 2010, [15] [16] it was held as being the first free and fair election since independence in 1958.

The first round took place normally on 27 June 2010 with ex Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his rival Alpha Condé emerging as the two runners-up for the second round. [17] However, due to allegations of electoral fraud, the second round of the election was postponed until 19 September 2010. [18] A delay until 10 October was announced by the electoral commission (CENI), subject to approval by Sékouba Konaté. [19] Yet another delay until 24 October was announced in early October. [20] Elections were finally held on 7 November. Voter turnout was high, and the elections went relatively smoothly. [21]

16 November 2010, Alpha Condé, the leader of the opposition party Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), was officially declared the winner of a 7 November run-off in Guinea's presidential election. He had promised to reform the security sector and review mining contracts if elected. [22]

2013 violence

In February 2013, the Guinean opposition party announced it would be stepping down from the electoral process due to a lack of transparency over the company used in registering voters. Calling on citizens to protest nationwide, the ensuing week saw multiple clashes between police and protesters, resulting in at least nine deaths, some of those due to live fire from security forces. [23] [24]

The protests were also a result of the previous months’ political wrangling between Condé’s administration and the opposition; minor protests were quelled on the street, and opposition supporters were arbitrarily arrested, prompting the resignation of two Guinean opposition ministers in September 2012. [25] This month also saw the opposition parties announce their stepping down from the National Transitional Council, which is effectively an interim parliament, and that they would also boycott the national electoral commission. The president of the national electoral commission, Louceny Camara, also stepped down due to pressure from the opposition over his relationship with President Condé; Camara was rumoured to be his ally and a key figure in the president’s rumoured attempts to pre-rig the legislative polls. [25]

The week after the protest saw another minor clash between protesters and security forces after a march to mark the funerals of the deceased was dispersed by tear gas and gunfire. [24]

On 7 March 2013, the government postponed the 12 May election date indefinitely until the political tension eased and preparations for free and fair elections could be established. [26]

Despite the election postponement, President Conde ordered a crackdown on those responsible for the violence, and on 10 March, a Guinean court ordered opposition leaders to appear at a hearing scheduled for 14 March, in which they would be questioned for their role in organising the protests. Former Prime Minister Sidya Toure branded the summons as an "illegal procedure for what was an authorised march" and a "manipulation of justice for political ends". [27]