Africa News blog
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Barring last-minute upsets, Ivory Coast will go to the polls on Sunday, marking the end of a five-year limbo in which the incumbent president has ruled without any real mandate and the country stagnated without a sense of identity or direction.
The following weekend, neighbouring Guinea may finally hold the serially delayed second-round of its presidential election, hoped to end nearly two years of military rule whose defining moment was a massacre of pro-democracy marchers by the security forces in a sports stadium.
It can only be a good thing if the elections allow Ivory Coast and Guinea to draw a line under their past and move on. But is either country actually ready for them?
In Guinea any semblance of voting on a candidate’s policy proposals or merits has been jettisoned after June’s first round which, to no great surprise, set the stage for a run-off between Cellou Dallein Diallo and Alpha Conde — representatives of the large Peul and Malinke communities respectively.
Guinea’s acting ruler has promised to restore civilian rule and made clear that military leader Moussa Dadis Camara will be out of action for some time after an assassination bid – raising questions over whether Camara will return from hospital in Morocco.
Although Sekouba Konate did not explicitly declare that he had taken over from Camara, his pledge to create a national unity government with opposition figures has effectively sidelined Camara and made him the key player in the junta for now.
In Guinea this week, at least 157 people were killed when security forces opened fire on a demonstration against military junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, according to a local rights group.
Much has changed since I visited the country in April and May this year. Then, the young Camara — or “Dadis” as most Guineans refer to him – did not look particularly dangerous despite his images staring out from walls, buildings and roundabouts all over Conakry, and cassettes of his speeches on sale in the markets.