If Guinea Can…

June 26, 2010

conakryIf  Guinea can pull off free and fair elections this weekend, it will lay the foundations for what could be one of Africa’s most unexpected and significant good news stories.

True, any new government must still deal with widespread poverty, a shattered economy and an army that just nine months ago was involved in mass killings and gang rapes of opposition marchers.
But such has been the catalogue of military putsches, tainted votes and constitution-tinkering by incumbents in the immediate neighbourhood that a genuine election in Guinea should send a signal across West Africa and beyond.
“If it can happen in Guinea, it’s lesson for other countries and an incentive to (the world) to maintain engagement,” said Rolake Akinola, Africa analyst at Eurasia Group.
On one level, Sunday’s elections are a fluke – the result of a bullet fired by a former aide at former junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, grazing his skull and putting him out of action and in temporary exile in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
But on another level, they stem from a profound hunger among Guineans to put their dysfunctional past behind them and an international awareness that the country — crucial to regional stability — had reached tipping point.
The United States, European Union, France, Japan, Spain and others have piled in with an estimated 40 million euros of funding for the election process.
And Washington and Paris have discreetly but emphatically lent their weight to the regional diplomacy that has kept Dadis Camara out of the picture.
Of course, such direct intervention would be unthinkable in countries which had not plumbed the depths reached by Guinea.
But if things hold together in Guinea, it should bolster the arguments of those in rich world capitals who argue in favour of engagement — whether via targeted sanctions, shuttle diplomacy or outright financial support when merited.
It should also encourage military leaders in Niger to make good on promises to hold elections and return rule to civilians, and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to ensure presidential elections in his country that are now five years late.

After all, if Guinea can, why can’t they?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Several comments;

This chain of events bolstered the claim that the threat of an ICC indictment does indeed effect weaker, internationally isloted regimes. (Even if it does little to deter stronger regimes that boast as least lukewarm regional support)

Lt. Tumba launched his attack on Captain Camara as international observers shuttled back and forth between Conakry and foreign capitals, ostensibly gathering evidence and preparing the reports that would eventually lead to an ICC indictment.

Second: I worry about the timing of this election for many of the reasons articulated in the opening paragraph of this entry; Cellou Dalein Diallo will inherit a country ripe for further political turmoil. Assuming the second round of elections proceeds without significant controversy, the dynamics (narco-trafficking,a grossly inflated military, rampant corruption, etc…)that brought about Dadis’ rise and fall persist…will Guineans not loose faith in democracy if their democratic leaders struggle in vain against these megalithic, systemic problems?

I assure you I am a Guinea-optimist, and subsequently, I would call on ECOWAS, the AU, and Foreign Stakeholders to continue robust engagement through the post election euphoria into the inevitable democracy fatigue engendered by the intransigence of Guinea’s political and economic problems.

Do not invest 40 million Euros in the electoral process only to abandon Guinea to post-election inertia…elections are the beginning of a transformative process, not the entirety of it.

Posted by SAIBL | Report as abusive

I believe Guinea is the most important country in Africa. It has the most potential of any country in Africa. It is vital for the people of Guinea not to loose faith in themselves. It is important that the leadership sees that they are not at an impasse but that their future is full of hope. I do not believe that they know the potential. But Guinea is the key to the beginning of a new and glorious future for the entire continent.

Posted by aoda | Report as abusive

Despite of the elections that have passed peacefully in Guinea,in its history,people are still skeptical about slow diliverence to stisfy the needs and aspiration of the populations.As now there is no rice availible;water, and electricity is yet to come by.

Posted by Asaki | Report as abusive