Declaration on Guinea
ROME COUNCIL - For a More Equal Global Society, 20-21 January 2003
The organisation, the unfolding and the results of the general elections of 30 June 2002 have once more shown the arbitrary and authoritarianism of the Guinean régime. Two years after the end of the outgoing national Assembly mandate, this ballot took place without the most representative political forces of the country, assembled within the Front for democratic alternation (Frad), could take part.
In reality, the electoral parody of June 2002 had no other objectives than to reinforce the lifelong presidency of Lansana Conté inaugurated by the constitutional referendum of 2001, to reduce the national Assembly to one registration chamber, and to eliminate the opposition of the national political game. This new institutional picture completes from now on the sombre picture of pluralism in Guinea. Any legal manifestation of the opposition is most of the time suppressed by the forces of the law, the administration ignores in its contacts with the citizens the most elementary rule of impartiality, and freedoms are constantly regressed. In reality, democracy as presented by the government is totally false (Trompe l’Oeil) as the contempt by the head of state towards opposition political parties and their principal representatives shows. He will go as far as individual and collective public freedoms, which show a false character far away from the great declarations made by the Constitution. Guinea is, today, the only West African country not having free broadcasting. There is therefore no private radio, where it exists as a matter of course on the Continent for the formation of citizens and public opinion in general. On the eve of the electoral deadline of June 2002, general Lansana Conté has, on the other hand, made his first demonstration of strength on the outskirt of Conakry. The "anti-gang" police force have opened fire on a population whose only harm was to demonstrate against the absence of electriticy during the relaying of the world cup match between France & Senegal. Many were injured and "counted", and arrests were made followed by imprisonment.
In investing in the Liberian crisis and in openly parading with the armed groups who fight the power in Monrovia, General Lansana Conté hopes therefore to throw a veil on the Guinean situation and be absolved (by the international community hostile to Charles Taylor) of all his internal turpitudes as well as massive human rights violations against his fellow citizens. It is in this same spirit ofamalgam and diversion that the attempted manifestation of the opposition, and particularly of the RPG, are presented by the Guinean power as signs of complicity with the "outside enemy".
Playing on certain diplomatic subterfuges and "instrumentalising" the international sanctions taken, rightly, against his old rival and "war accomplice", Charles Taylor, General Conté tries to present himself as victim of the murderous folly of his Liberian neighbour. Therefore, it would appear that the "regional" speech of Lansana Conté, and his "attacks" against Taylor’s Liberia have no other aim than to confirm an internal legitimacy which has gone seriously wrong for several years.Under the pretext that the war situation at his country’s borders, he has, bit by bit, instituted on the internal plan, a real exceptional régime.
This picture shows that a "politically pacified" Guinea and governed in accordance with democratic laws, would be the best guarantee of a return to peace in the region. Paradoxically, Charles Taylor and Lansana Conté are the "only winners" of the war they are waging: it allows them diversions on the internal problems and bestows on them a legitimacy that their fellow citizens deny them more and more fiercely.
For international opinion, and African opinion in particular, Guinea evoke a country apart which knows of pluralism only by name, et of which the citizens are subject to a Head of State who, under the appearance of bonhomie has erected a government of repression (as the arbitrary imprisonment shows, for more than two and a half years, of the leader of the opposition, Alpha Condé, without his parlamentarian immunity being lifted) and governs without worrying whatsoever about reactions around the world.
Togo and Zimbabwe have been sanctioned for lesser violence. But there is manifestly nothing to expect from a political dialogue with General Lansana Conté. Only the application of severe sanctions (including the travel ban of the Guinean main leaders) could bring him to respect his obligations, interior as well as international, the latter being forecast, among others, by the Cotonou Convention. One cannot admit any longer that he hides behind "the war situation which exists in Liberia and in Sierra Leone". From all accounts, the external diversion in which the Guinean power excels serves him as a unique rule of government.