This week, both the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) stated they intend to increase pressure on the Conde government and the opposition to work together and finalize plans for the elections. In Conakry, Philippe Van Damm, EU representative, stated that the release of important EU funding to Guinea is dependent on a firm plan and detailed timetable for holding elections. The US, which is about to increase pressure on Guinea as well, held a meeting at the State department on Wednesday to receive feedback from NGOs on how this might best be accomplished.
Yet, the real question for the US and the EU is: How will forcing yet another fraudulent election on the people of Guinea
bring stability to a country that is on the threshold of an ethnic civil war? The international community’s maniacal focus on holding elections as the last stage in Guinea’s transition to a civilian government extends no further than “holding elections.” What we don’t hear is a call for free and fair elections, a demand that Conde quit treating his political opponents as if they were enemies of the state, and a demand for the reconstitution of the electoral commission, including the ouster of convicted felon, Louceny Camara, as its president.
In addition, the international community cannot continue to pretend it doesn’t know that Conde has put ethnic relations on a powder keg and that legislative elections are the spark. Legislative elections will be worse than what we witnessed in the 2010 presidential election: rife with ethnic hatred spewed by Conde and violence against the Peul ethnic group by his political forces and state security plus, all manner of state-sponsored repression, including extra-judicial killings of Peuls and rape of Peul women by security forces under the command of interim leader, Sekouba Konate.
If the international community decides it is best to support free and fair elections rather than simply a conclusion to the “transition,” the electoral commission would have to be eliminated and Alpha Conde would have to be deposed. If stability in Guinea is the goal to preserve international investment, forcing an election now amidst new heights of impunity and ethnic hatred displayed by Conde, will make the 2010 election violence look like a tea party.
And, finally, everything the opposition asks for regarding legislative elections is supported by law or common fair practices. It does not need, nor should it be forced, to compromise on anything. The international community’s job is to keep an eye on Alpha Conde and pressure him to do the right thing. A very tall order, but it’s the price it must pay for a truly stable Guinea.