peter tinti

Category: guinea

‘Baghdad’ and ‘Gaza’ in Guinea

The Wall Street Journal

In Conakry, where taps run dry and electricity is an exception, democratic visions have yet to benefit restless youth.

Conakry, Guinea: The demonstrations here in the capital of this small Western African nation might start in “Baghdad.” But they often spread quickly to “Gaza,” “Tora Bora” and even “les Balkans.”

“It’s like that here,” says Oumar, a self-described human-rights activist who ran over to me when he saw my camera. Choking on tear gas, he pauses to take deep, methodical breaths through a water-soaked cloth. Oumar, in his early 20s, explains to me that local youths have unofficially renamed certain slums in Guinea’s capital after famous global hotspots. “We are the resistance and we will never let them run this place,” he says.

By “them,” Oumar is referring to the government of Alpha Condé, who in 2010 became the first elected president of Guinea, a resource-rich nation that has been plagued by more than 50 years of authoritarian mismanagement and outside interference.

But for Oumar, a member of the Fulani ethnic group, “them” is also a catchall term for non-Fulani, who represent more than half of Guinea’s population. Non-Fulani like Mr. Condé make up much of the current government.

Since May political partisans, referred to locally as “militants,” have clashed with each other and with military police over issues ranging from legislative elections to the provision of basic goods and services. At least 50 have been killed and approximately 100 injured. To say that the violence is ethnically motivated would be inaccurate, but to claim that the underlying animosities are purely political would be incomplete.

Click here to continue reading.

In mineral-rich Guinea, can reform leader keep it together?

CS Monitor

In the oft-ignored West African nation, President Conde is pushing civil society norms as investors eye potential. But it is an uphill effort.

Conakry, Guinea: Ibrahim Bah is trying to tell the story of how military police knocked down his steel doors, shattered his shop windows and threatened him at gunpoint. But the soft-spoken father of four is no match for his more vocal neighbor, Aissatou Bah, who interrupts to tell her own story of alleged police abuse.

In the slums of Conakry, the impoverished capital city of the resource-rich West African nation of Guinea, citizens like Ibrahim and Aissatou are increasingly frustrated. Over the last three months, their neighborhood has been rocked by a string of political protests, looting sprees and violent police crackdowns.

Since May, at least 50 people have been killed and close to a hundred injured as political partisans have taken to the streets to clash with each other and with military police.

The uptick in Conakry’s violence, which coincides with political paralysis across the often-ignored nation, has prompted diplomats and international investors alike to wonder if Guinea’s most recent troubles are the natural growing pains of a young democracy coming out of years of authoritarian rule, or symptoms of a more critical condition that may include the early warning signs of a power struggle along ethnic lines.

Click here to continue reading.