Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!



Fahamu Bulletin Archive

News about our programmes 30, Sept. 2014

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

AU MONITOR

This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa: December 2011 newsletter

Deborah Brautigam provides an overview and description of China's development finance to Africa. "Looking at the nature of Chinese development aid - and non-aid - to Africa provides insights into China's strategic approach to outward investment and economic diplomacy, even if exact figures and strategies are not easily ascertained", she states as she describes China's provision of grants, zero-interest loans and concessional loans. Pambazuka Press recently released a publication titled India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, and Oliver Stuenkel provides his review of the book.
The December edition available here.

The 2010 issues: September, October, November, December, and the 2011 issues: January, February, March , April, May , June , July , August , September, October and November issues are all available for download.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Comment & analysis

Challenges to democracy: The military in Guinea

Jibrin Ibrahim

2009-04-02, Issue 426

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/55314

Bookmark and Share

Printer friendly version

There is 1 comment on this article.


cc Wikimedia
President Dadis Camara of Guinea is an example of militariat rule in West Africa, writes Jibrin Ibrahim, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development. Camara has been avoiding elections, with claims for the need to challenge drug networks and end corruption, but, says Ibrahim, this is an agenda to legitimise his rule. The drug networks, Ibrahim suggests, are closely linked to a military ruling class that is kept in place by the state’s high expenditure on the military and its exclusion of ordinary people from politics.

I started this column with a recollection of Nigeria’s first coup and the impact of the military in ruling and ruining Nigeria.

I spent a week in Guinea, observing the antics of the new military junta, a rude reminder of the dangers of the militariat.

The Sierra Leonean political scientist, Jimmy Kandeh coined the term ‘militariat’ to describe the process of political decomposition that followed the capture of state power by young conspiratorial junior officers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia.

They take over power on an anti-corruption ticket and become very corrupt themselves. They always leave a trail of blood and destruction behind them.

Like Oliver Cromwell, their political philosophy is dictatorial and sadistic – ‘Nine citizens out of ten hate me. What does it matter if the tenth alone is armed?’ Guinea has been ruled by three people since Sekou Toure said no to the French in 1958.

He was in power for 26 years from 1958 to his death. Lansana Conte took over and ruled for 24 years until his death on 22 December 2008 when Captain Dadis Camara took over – the youngest person to have ever taken power.

The Centre for Democracy and Development and the West African Civil Society Forum had organised a conference aimed at mobilising civil society in the Mano River Union (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast) for increased engagement in the search for democracy.

Guinean civil society was, however, split down the middle and many argued that Dadis Camara should be allowed more time to clean the society of the ‘narco traffickers’ that have made Guinea and Guinea Bissau major transit points for South American cocaine seeking routes to Europe.

Each night, Guineans are hooked to the television watching their young president and the head of the anti-drug agency interrogate generals accused of drug trafficking and producing pornographic films.

The high point last week was when the son of the late president, Captain Usman Conte, was humiliated on television for being a major drug dealer, covering for South Americans bringing in drugs through military air strips.

‘We need more drama,’ Guineans seem to be saying. The problem, however, is that drug trials on television with a serving president as chief interrogator are not a serious attempt to fight crime.

I was appalled when I heard President Camara shout at a general on prime TV – ‘Shut up, you don’t look like a sincere man.’ What do sincere men look like? And how can the president be both prosecutor and judge?

Meanwhile, President Camara has refused to commit himself to the calendar proposed by the international contact group to organise elections and hand over power by the end of this year.

Rather, he is asking for two years to destroy the drug gangs, unravel corruption, review the constitution, develop infrastructure, improve public morality, and the rest of that sad familiar story.

It is clearly an agenda to perpetuate his rule. Guinea has had more than its fair share of arbitrary rule. Under Sekou Toure’s 26-year rule, plots against the regime were imagined on a monthly basis and an estimated fifty thousand people were killed as suspected coup plotters.

I drove past Camp Boiro where most of these people, including Diallo Telli, first general secretary of the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), were killed.

It looked so serene and innocent, located between a mosque and the general hospital. And yet, that is one of Africa’s worst sites for torture and mass murder.

Lansana Conte kept all his colleagues from the colonial army in the service and disregarded the rule that officers should retire at the age of sixty or after thirty years’ service.

Then the old generals virtually all recruited their children into the army, thus establishing a veritable and reckless military ruling class.

Just before I left Guinea, the President of Guinea Bissau, Joao ‘Nino’ Vieira was gunned down by rampaging soldiers who suspected him of being complicit in the assassination of the chief of army staff.

We should note three facts. First, both Guinea and Guinea Bissau are militarised states that devote over 40 per cent of their national budget to maintaining the army.

Secondly, both countries are prime movers of cocaine and the dealers are army generals.

Thirdly, the rank and file of the army in both countries are often not paid their salaries. They are wallowing in poverty.

Indeed, Dadis Camara built his popularity in Guinea after organising a mutiny to force the government to pay soldiers’ salaries. Militarism is not only bad for the people - it’s terrible for the army.

ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States) and the African Union have been putting pressure on the Guinean junta to organise elections and go back to the barracks by the end of this year. The international contact group will return to Guinea on 17th March to keep up the pressure.

Guinea needs as much pressure as possible to get the military out and the people back into politics.

* Dr Jibrin Ibrahim is a political scientist and director of the Centre for Democracy and Development.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/


Readers' Comments

Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.

Tank you for a very interesting article. I've been following what is going on in Guinea for some time now, but as often the case is with Africa and its countries, there are so many hidden pages, and this article enlightened me a bit more on Guinea.

Gustaf Redemo




↑ back to top

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

© 2009 Fahamu - http://www.fahamu.org/