|The Work of Mario Giro|
The Work of Mario Giro
The Community of Sant’Egidio has been present in Guinea since the early 1990s and in recent years, it has intervened, on several occasions, to facilitate political dialogue.
In 2007, Mario Giro accomplished a mission at the height of the crisis between Lansana Conté and the Forces Vives (political parties, unions, civil society, NGOs, etc.). Dozens of deaths had been tallied and a general strike paralyzed Conakry. In a ghost town occupied only by the military, Mario Giro met with President Conté to suggest mediation with the Forces Vives. President Conté would choose a new Prime Minister from amongst a list of names selected by the Forces Vives. It was the only way to relaunch the country’s activity. It was thus that the consensus government was appointed, led by Mr. Lansana Kouyate.
In June 2009, after the military coup that brought to power a junta (CNDD) led by Captain Dadis Camara, Mario Giro returned to Conakry to meet with Dadis Camara and various ministers of the CNDD. Mario Giro asked for the commutation of the death sentences for 22 prisoners. He also tried to calm the military who wanted to establish a form of mob justice in the country by encouraging popular lynching. The meeting was difficult. Camara did not immediately give in but did eventually renounce executing the prisoners.
After the September 28, 2009 tragedy, President Blaise Compaore officially requested the assistance of Sant’Egidio and invited Mario Giro Ouagadougou to mediate between General Konate and Captain Camara.
Sant’Egidio continued to work to support democratic transition. Mario Giro travelled several times to Conakry to meet with General Konate, and other transition leaders. He worked in particular with the National Transition Council (CNT) and its President, the union leader Rabiatou Serah Diallo, for a facilitation that would involve all the political actors of the transition.
An agreement in principle was established for a meeting of all the political forces in Rome. The aim was to avoid ethnic radicalization among the parties and any drift that might give the military an opportunity to regress in terms of the progress made. Mario Giro offered the CNT a guaranteed agreement that presents a set of rules for democratic transition, accepted by all.
Though Guinea has been independent since 1958, it has never held successful multiparty elections. Between 1958 and 2008, the country was governed by two presidents. First, there was Ahmed Sekou Toure whose government was overthrown in 1984 by a coup d’état led by the General Lansana Conté. Lansana Conté ruled until his death in 2008. Since then, the country has had no stable government.
During the 24 years of dictatorship imposed by General Lansana Conté, the opposition was united under the name of the Forces Vives (political parties, unions, civil societies, NGOs, etc.). In 2007, in response to the greatest social crisis in the country’s history, the people rose up and demanded a new Prime Minister to revive the economy. Tensions between the military dictatorship and the opposition became increasingly frequent.
On December 23, 2008, after the death of General Lansana Conté, Captain Camara, on behalf of the National Council of Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power, suspended the constitution, declared himself President, and promised to organize democratic elections. He announced to the international community that neither he nor other members of the transitional authorities would stand for election. Camara’s military government lost funding from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, as well as from members of the G8. Alain Joyandet, French State Secretary for Cooperation and Francophonie, visited Guinea in early 2009 and attended the meeting of the International Contact Group on Guinea, chaired by the African Union and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS).
This meeting’s main goal was to set a timetable for presidential elections and to establish the political and union freedom needed to organize a free election. Once a schedule of elections was established, Captain Camara decided to run for election, a choice that was widely criticized by the international community and Guineans themselves. Captain Camara started to quickly lose popular support, and so he strengthened military control of the country, as well as his authority over the government. He abolished the right of unions, the right of association, and the prospect of free and fair elections drifted further away.
On September 28, 2009, during a peaceful demonstration at the Conakry stadium, Camara’s army opened fire on protesters, killing 150 people and injuring 1200 more. UN investigators described the massacre as a “crime against humanity”. France withdrew all military and institutional cooperation. In December 2009, following a failed assassination attempt against Captain Camara, he was evacuated to Morocco, and was then transferred to Burkina Faso in January 2010.
On October 2, 2009, the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, was appointed Facilitator of the process to end the crisis in Guinea. On January 15, 2010, under his leadership, the Joint Declaration was signed in Ouagadougou by Captain Camara, General Sekouba Konate, and President Blaise Compaore himself. This declaration named General Secouba Konate Acting and Transition President. The declaration also designated a government of national unity. In February 2010, France restored cooperation with Guinea according to the designation.
On June 27, 2010, the first multiparty presidential elections were held since Guinea’s independence. Cellou Dalein Diallo (Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea – UFDG) and Alpha Conde (People’s Rally of Guinea – RPG) have qualified for the second round. However, the citizens have doubts about the transparency of results and three months after the elections, the second round has not yet been held.
Ethnic violence continues to rise, fueled by indecision concerning the date of the second round of elections. Cellou Dalein Diallo is of Fulani origin and Alpha Conde is Malinke in a country whose population of more than ten million inhabitants can be divided thusly: 40% Fula, 30% Malinke, and 20% Susu. The second round of elections could not take place on Sunday, October 24, 2010, because of the country’s internal violence, exacerbated by activists from the political parties of both candidates. Several attacks on the Fulani people have taken place in Conakry, Kankan, and Sinuiri since early October. Transition President, General Konate, solemnly called on both candidates to calm their militant activists, a pre-requisite to establishing a new date for the second round of elections.
1958: Proclamation of Independence of Guinea.
1958 – 1984: Ahmed Sekou Toure ruled the country.
1984: Following a coup d’état, General Lansana Conte seized power.
January 2007: The most important social crisis the country has ever known is followed by a national strike, protests, and the government increased military repression to try to control the country.
February 26, 2007: Mr. Lansana Kouyate was named Prime Minister by the external mediation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
December 22, 2008: General Conté died after 24 years in power.
December 23, 2008: Captain Camara proclaimed himself President and suspended the Constitution. The international community cut all funding to Guinea.
January 3, 2009: Mr. Joyandet, representing France, traveled to Guinea to remind the government of the European Union’s requirements.
September 28, 2009: Opposition peacefully demonstrated at the Conakry stadium when the army locked them inside and opened fire. 150 people died and 1,200 were injured. France withdrew its military cooperation. UN inspectors described the massacre as a “crime against humanity”.
December 3, 2009: A failed assassination attempt on Captain Camara. He was evacuated and hospitalized in Morocco, and found refuge in Burkina Faso in January 2010
January 15, 2010: The Joint Declaration was signed in Ouagadougou between Captain Camara, General Konate, and President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso. General Konate was appointed Acting and Transition President.
June 27, 2010: The first round of the first multiparty democratic elections in the history of the country. Following this first round, a wave of violence between supporters of the two candidates for the second round led authorities to postpone elections.