WARN Policy Brief: Tackling the crisis in Guinea - Prioritizing the priorities

Originally published



The September 28, 2009 massacres of over 150 Guineans and maiming of others; the brutal raping of women and reported hiding of corpses of the victims, have dashed all hopes of Guineans and pundits who still afforded to give the military junta a chance. Captain Dadis Camara has just plummeted from a 'hero to a villain.' The 'wait and see' period that followed the bloodless coup d'état after the death of President Lansana Conté and the seizure of power by Captain Dadis Camara has flickered out.

The international community's reaction to the September 28 massacres was a mix of rage and consternation. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) qualified the action of the military junta as barbaric and totally unacceptable. Following the extra-ordinary summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government that held in Abuja on October 17, 2009, an arms embargo was slammed on the military junta in Guinea. The EU has followed with an arms embargo and targeted sanctions including travel bans on members of the junta and their associates and freezing of assets. This followed an earlier decision of ECOWAS to appoint President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso as the mediator of the Guinean political crisis.

The momentum on Guinea is building. Three fundamental issues arise:

- the September 28 massacres and the question of impunity;

- the military factor with its attendant complexities (indiscipline and anarchy, factions and generational differences, historical factors) and ramifications which must be addressed; and

- the persistent political crisis (governance related, the constitution, the political parties, lack of credible elections) that Dadis Camara inherited.

These issues cannot be well understood without situating them in their rightful geopolitical context characterised by serious economic interests (including the growing threat of drug cartels and influence of mercenaries) in Guinea.

In proffering solutions to the ongoing crisis in Guinea, the aforementioned issues must be taken into account. This policy brief therefore analyzes the crisis in Guinea with a particular focuses on:

- Key variables that would determine the direction of the ongoing crisis;

- Identifying the potential spoilers and connectors;

- Possible scenarios to envisage between now and expected elections; and

- Options available for the Guinean actors, ECOWAS-AU, and the international community.

Our conclusion is that Guinea is at the crossroads and what is needed now is to prioritize the priorities in addressing the present quagmire. A wrong approach, a deviation from the main focus may hijack the process and we may soon start counting loses and missed opportunities.