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Guinea Modern History

When Guinea's strong man Sekou Touré died in 1984, the military took power in a coup. The country's new leader Lansana Conté led a strict regime, although after protests he was forced to introduce multi-party democracy. When Conté died in 2008, the military regained power. The new junta promised free elections, but struck hard against all who opposed. After an assassination attempt against the junta leader, a transitional government took over preparing for democratic elections. However, the presidential election, won by Alpha Condé, triggered ethnic violence.

Military coup 1984

President Sekou Touré died in 1984 and while the leadership of the Guinea Democratic Party (PDG) was discussing possible successors, a group of officers took power. New President became Colonel Lansana Conté, while another Colonel Diarra Traoré became Prime Minister.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Guinea. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

The new leaders wanted to encourage a private business and turned to the West for assistance. Many political prisoners were released and many indicated that Guinea was heading towards a more open political climate. Since Conté abolished the Prime Minister's post, Traoré in 1985 tried to take power in a coup. It failed and Traore and several other people were executed.

Contemporary History of GuineaMulti-party systems are introduced

The country's debt forced severe economic tightening in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The dissatisfaction with the regime grew and in the early 1990s Conté succumbed to demands to introduce a multi-party system.

Eight candidates took part in the presidential elections in 1993. Conté received over half of the votes after the result was annulled in an area where the opposition was strong. In the 1995 parliamentary elections, his Unit and Progress Party (PUP) won 71 of the 114 seats. The second largest party was the Guinean People's Party (RPG), led by Alpha Condé.

In 1996, parts of the military revolted against Conté. The uprising required about fifty casualties before the president agreed to the revolvers' demands for higher wages. After that, he won over the military's support.

Mass redundancies in the public sector and high unemployment created an explosive social situation in the cities. Despite this, Conté was re-elected as president in 1998. Both before and after the election, the regime let prison detainees oppose, among them Condé.

The PUC clearly won in the parliamentary elections held in 2002 and boycotted by the largest opposition parties. Conté ran in the presidential election in 2003. As expected, he won big, but only one other candidate stood after everyone else was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Worse economy, popular protests

After the elections, the economy continued to deteriorate, sparking new popular protests. In December 2004, Cellou Dalein Diallo was appointed new Prime Minister. His main task was to get the economy organized, but he also initiated a dialogue with the opposition.

In the summer of 2005, large price increases for food and fuel triggered a series of strikes and street protests. The following year, Conté announced through a decree that the prime minister should be given greater powers, while dismissing Diallo. According to analysts, the prime minister's proposal for a new economic policy had challenged the inner circle of the president.

Inflation made it increasingly difficult for ordinary Guineans to cope with their living. From 2006, the National Federation of Guinean Workers' Union (CNTG) and the Guinean Workers Union (USGT) played an increasingly important role in the protests against the government. Gradually, more and more residents joined the demonstrations. Police and military hit hard on the protests and in connection with a strike in early 2007, some 60 people were killed. Conté first seemed to go to the opposition to show that he did not intend to give up any power. Since a new general strike was announced in February, the regime introduced a state of emergency and ordered the army to restore order. A large number of people are shot dead by the security forces. The strike was halted since the president promised in February to appoint a new prime minister.

Former diplomat Lansana Kouyaté was named new prime minister. However, neither Conté nor Kouyaté had full control over the military, which plundered and harassed the civilian population. The situation improved since Conté dismissed the army command and promoted a thousand soldiers. The government also managed to improve contacts with the World Bank and the IMF, but for ordinary Guineans it made little difference.

Conté dies, new military coup

Parliament's term expired in June 2007, but no election was held. High food and fuel prices triggered new protests in the fall of 2008. When Conté died at the end of the same year, a group of officers conducted a coup, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, which promised free elections and the fight against corruption.

At first, many Guineans welcomed the coup, but doubts soon arose as to whether the junta was ready to give up power. Since Camara hinted that he intended to run for office in the presidential election, tens of thousands of people gathered in Conakry in September 2009 to protest against it. Military was deployed against the protesters and 157 people were killed and over a thousand injured. Several major donors were now suspending their support for the country.

In December 2009, Camara was managed by a close associate, but he survived and was brought to Morocco to receive care. One reason for the act was said to be that the assailant feared that he alone would be blamed for the massacre a few months earlier. The government was temporarily taken over by Colonel Sékouba Konaté, who paved the way for a transitional regime that would prepare for free elections and write a new constitution.

Democratic elections and ethnic unrest

Presidential elections were announced in June 2010. 24 candidates stood, but the fight was between Alpha Condé from RPG, and Cellou Dalein Diallo from Guinea's Democratic Forces (UFDG) and Sidya Touré from the Republican Forces Union (UFR).

Diallo won with 44 percent of the vote against 18 percent for Condé. Since none of them had received more than half the votes, a second round of voting must be held. Accusations of cheating came from 20 candidates, but international observers approved the election.

The second round was held on November 7, after being moved several times. Meanwhile, violence erupted in several parts of the country. The contradictions were strongest between Malinké, the people group Condé belongs to, and Diallos folk fulani. Both candidates called for calm, but Diallo accused the security forces of arbitrary arrests of his supporters and of provoking the violence.

Prior to the election, Condé had managed to gather support from 16 parties gathered under the name Rainbow Alliance. He also played to the concern of other people groups that Fulani, which is a financially strong group, would control both the economy and politics if Diallo won the election.

Condé won with 52.5 percent of the vote, but Diallo refused to approve the result. Reports of unrest came from several directions and dozens of people were killed, prompting authorities to introduce emergency permits. Most of the victims came from the Fulani people and it was again the army and other security forces that were accused of being behind most of the violence. On December 2, the Supreme Court ruled that Condé had won the election and Diallo accepted the ruling. The state of emergency was lifted on December 10 and the situation in the country normalized.

Alpha Condé forms government

In December 2010, Condé took over as president. With an almost empty treasury, he must now try to meet the Guinean hopes for better living conditions. Dalein Diallo declined to participate in a national unity government.

However, Condé's government was big, 40 people, because he had to take into account the 16 parties that had supported him in the presidential election. However, Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Fofana was taken from an economic research institute and the President himself assumed responsibility for the defense. Three generals from the former transitional government were also given ministerial posts and one from the former junta, despite being designated one of the UN responsible for the massacre in 2009. As a gesture of reconciliation, he also included three ministers from the Fulani people group.

The new government took measures to curb high food prices and introduced free maternity care. Defense reform and anti-corruption efforts were praised abroad. Through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country had part of its debts written off (see Financial overview).

Parliamentary elections and Ebola epidemic

The parliamentary elections, which would have been held in 2011, were postponed several times. The opposition highlighted its dissatisfaction with the delays and its concern that the election would not be conducted properly, among other things by boycotting the work of the Ceni election commission, until the government announced in early 2013 that the election would be held in May of that year. The tours became numerous before it finally got rid of. Street protests, some of which led to violence, were interspersed with talks between the government and the opposition. In 2012-2013, at least 52 people, most of them protesters, were killed in connection with political protests.

Following the UN mediation, the parliamentary elections were held on September 28, 2013. According to media reports, both Condés RPG, Diallos UFDG and Sidya Tourés UFR looked good. But when the official figures came, RPG had subtracted. The opposition accused the electoral commission of cheating, while observers from the regional organizations Ecowas and the AU approved the election with certain reservations.

At the end of 2013, Guinea suffered from an epidemic of the ebola virus disease that rapidly spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia (see Social Conditions). The government was criticized for not realizing how serious the situation was until August 2014. Many Guineans suspected that President Condé would use the Ebola crisis as a sweeping reason to postpone the presidential election. But there were also those who believed that the virus was created by France and major mining companies in order to weaken Guinea. By the time the epidemic was over, more than 2,500 people had died of the disease.

 
 

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