top of page

Guinea - Militarised Elections

Updated: Jul 6, 2020



6 May, 2020


The results of the double ballot, legislative and constitutional, on Sunday 22 March, maintained at all costs by the regime in power, gave without surprise a crushing victory to this political party: 79 seats out of 114 for the Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, the ruling party, and a 91% "yes" for the constitutional reform allowing Alpha Condé to run for his own succession in a few months. Contested by the opposition and civil society for months, these elections were held under the control of the Guinean army. France has condemned the violence of the security forces, but maintains its military and police cooperation. The year 2019 marked a particularly authoritarian and repressive turning point in Guinea. While for several years demonstrations have been banned or repressed, as the end of Alpha Condé's second and last term approaches, tensions and violence have increased. This neighbouring country in the Sahel has rushed into the vein of the fight against terrorism in order to introduce freedom-destroying laws.

A tense pre-electoral context


Passed in June 2019, a law on the prevention and suppression of terrorism threatens the already abused freedom of expression and assembly and increases the length of police custody to 30 days. A few days later, a law on the use of weapons by the gendarmerie, officially intended to protect against terrorism and hostage-taking, was passed, which acts as a licence to shoot. At the same time, as fears of a possible constitutional tinkering increase, the implementation of a constitutional reform is announced, which, behind the presentation of advances concerning women's rights (banning female circumcision and the marriage of minors), allows the presidential term counter to be reset to zero and paves the way for Alpha Condé to remain in power, under the cover of future electoral masquerades. A National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) was formed to fight this constitutional sham. Since then, human rights violations have been accumulating: kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, banned demonstrations... At least 31 people are reported to have died in clashes with the armed forces between October 2019 and February 2020 (Le Monde, 16/03). After a postponement of the elections following pressure from the international community and the withdrawal of the observation mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Alpha Condé maintained the holding of the polls on 22 March despite the Covid 19 epidemic and the cancellation of an ECOWAS mediation due to the health context. According to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the ECOWAS audit, one third of the electoral register poses problems of irregularities.

According to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the ECOWAS audit, one third of the electoral register poses problems of irregularities.

Double voting by forceps

Prior to the polls, the forces of law and order occupied the area: from 25 February, an army grid was set up throughout the country, with patrols day and night. On election day, the army was omnipresent: patrols, taking charge of ballot boxes, counting in barracks.


Prior to the polls, the forces of law and order occupied the area: from 25 February, an army grid was set up throughout the country, with patrols day and night. On election day, the army was omnipresent: patrols, taking charge of ballot boxes, counting in barracks.

Since the 22 March elections, the FNDC has reported 119 deaths, in Conakry and in the forest region, where the ethnic game, fuelled by Alpha Condé since 2010 and exacerbated with the maintenance of the vote, has led to killings. An Amnesty report of 2 April 2020 even denounces the role of the security forces in the violence since 22 March and calls for independent investigations. Faced with this coup de force, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged in its statement of 24 March that the referendum had no "credibility" and deplored the "role played by elements of the security and defense forces". These remarks, which go beyond the agreed formula of a few irregularities that do not taint the sincerity of the vote, were hardly appreciated by the Guinean authorities, who immediately summoned the French Ambassador. It is not known what arguments were put against him.


Military Cooperation


However, while the ministerial communiqué warns of "the role played by elements of the security and defense forces going beyond simply securing the process", France's military and police cooperation with this now resolutely dictatorial regime is not called into question: training of Guinean soldiers, operational cooperation and the presence of a dozen or so military aid workers at the heart of the Guinean forces, according to the latest available information (see Billets n°288, July August 2019). Despite this repressive context, in December 2019, Bruno Baratz, commander of the French Elements in Senegal, visited Guinea in order to "strengthen military cooperation between Guinea and France in various fields, particularly in support of the rise in power of the Special Forces Group". The Groupement des Forces spéciales, which specialises in intelligence and counter-terrorism, constitutes, along with the Special Battalion of the Presidency and the Autonomous Battalion of Airborne Troops, the elite units targeted by the FNDC for their role in the post-election violence. Even if the Quai d'Orsay will not fail to explain that none of the elements who benefited from the good advice of the French military cooperators were personally involved in this wave of violence, the maintenance of this cooperation is in any case a sign of support for the Guinean regime. In a context favoured by the fight against terrorism and the strategic positioning of various actors on the African continent, Guinea maintains military relations with other States, such as Saudi Arabia, the United States, Morocco and Russia, which also contribute to training, equipment, etc. France, a historical supporter of some of the continent's worst dictatorships, now locks itself into a justifying pragmatism to preserve its military cooperation, a powerful vector of influence, under the pretext of not giving way to others. Just as it did yesterday to contain the spread of communism or today in the Sahel in the name of the fight against terrorism, all pretexts are good to justify cooperation with a murderous army. Originally published by Survie, French activist association fighting against neocolonialism: https://survie.org/l-association/

22 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page