Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Ready for elections in Ivory Coast and Guinea?

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guineaBarring 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 junta’s new democracy pledge

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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.

Do Guinea’s dark days reveal junta’s colours?

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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.

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