Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Coup in Guinea

     I have read a little bit about the Mano River wars (a.k.a Charles Taylor wars) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D'Ivoire and Guinea, so I knew the name Conte and Conkary before Conte died two days ago, after having run the country since 1984 as dictator.  He had taken over in a bloodless coup after the previous leader had died, nearly identical to the current situation.  By the way, in the Mano River wars, Conte was generally against Robert Taylor, which is a plus.  One of the big "problems" of these wars(was there a non-problem?) were everyone was rallying/paying militias to go over the border.  People tend to be less brutal to their neighbors, while foreign contract killers have almost no incentive to be humane.

     Good and bad news in Guinea.  The bad news is that every international organization has come out against the putchists.  Guinea is in Francophone Africa, and France is particularly upset, AFP is using bogus ledes and headlines to paint the worst possible light (e.g. the new government has promised elections within two years, AFP actually wrote they had "ruled out" all elections for two years.  AFP is making it up.). 

     The language mix in the country is (table based on Ethnologue) is reported to be 40% Fulani, 30% Malinke, and 20% Soussou.  Conte was Soussou and lots of the top people in the government he ran were, too.  The putchists might well be a Malinke faction.

     Good news:  No fighting so far (re-categorize under great news).  Supposedly, most all Guineans are much happier with the idea of a non-corrupt military government than a continuation of the Conte legacy.  They were planning a curfew, but the imposition of the curfew is being delayed till after Christmas.  The former government was corrupt.  Capt. Camara has pre-emptively accused the "loyalists" of getting ready to bring in foreign mercenaries.  This suggests the idea behind his power is entirely Guinean.  Camara has a way with words.  Although only a Captain, he ran the logistics or supply division of the Army. 

     Bad news:  Camara's people already had a parade.  As a practical minded-person, I can't see that there is any real utility in this, don't they have a government to set up?  If I had to guess, the worst possibility is that this is going to turn into a "Malinke-turn-at-the-trough" after a quarter century of Soussou rule.  I doubt neighbors will try to take advantage and move into Guinea, but certainly justifications like "in defense of the Constitutional order" are already winning wide approbation among the allegedly responsible parties.  A dictator write a Constitution that says his hand-picked second-in-command should be put in charge if he dies is a meaningful document?  I'm pretty sure that's all the Constitution amounts to in this case.

     If no one is dying now, how many Guineans would you be willing to sacrifice (i.e. kill, and since it is premeditated, therefore murder) in order to create a democracy that has "never" existed there? 

     Oh, and if you are a Russian or South African, this is particularly bad news.  Russia's Rusal and South African Anglo-Dutch Ashanti are probably among the biggest producers.  They had deals cut with Conte, and now will have to renegotiate.  English Rio Tinto, Australian BHP Billiton and American Alcoa are also present in Guinea, the world's biggest source of Bauxite, the raw material used for aluminum.  Bloomberg is running a story principally based on the words of the EurAsia group, based in New York, which says the mining companies will face "constant extortionary pressure."  Has there been any extortionary pressure?  Did the mining companies used to pay off Conte, personally, so that little to no taxes or fees needed to be paid to the Guinean treasury?  However, it should also be noted that most of the current event facts I have relied on have come from the Bloomberg Newswire.

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