Guinea: the thousand and one facets of Alpha Condé

“Guinea is back! »Said Alpha Condé at the top of the rostrum for his inaugural speech as the new president of Guinea, on December 21, 2010. He then became the very first democratically elected leader of this former French colony of West Africa , ruled for fifty years by authoritarian, even dictatorial powers.

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A historic first election

Sentenced to death under the regime of President-dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré, Condé was then imprisoned for more than two years under the reign of General Lansana Conté. Ironically, it is precisely before the magistrate who had him sentenced in 2000 to five years’ imprisonment “for endangering state security”, the president of the Supreme Court, Mamadou Sylla, that Alpha Condé was sworn in at the People’s Palace in Conakry that year. His victory and this rediscovered pride of the Guineans, “Professor Condé”, as he likes to call himself, owes it largely to the historical attitude of his main rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who very quickly recognized his defeat. “The attachment to peace and to one and indivisible Guinea commands us to stifle our frustration and our suffering in order to remain calm and serene and to avoid any form of violence. Victory and defeat are constitutive of life, as religion teaches us, ”Diallo said. “Let us contain our electoral bitterness by the legitimate pride of representing, in spite of fraud and repression, nearly half of the votes validated”, he concluded.

If Alpha Condé was then crowned with his image of opponent acquired after decades of struggle, he is accused 10 years later of having plunged his country into crisis to remain in power by having a new Constitution adopted. What are its priorities today and the main lines of its program if it is returned to the Sékhoutouréya palace?

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Alpha Condé hyperpresident

At 82 years old, this still slender man, who limps slightly, presents himself as a modernizer, opposed to excision and forced marriages. He had also chosen, in early September, to address the women of his party to formalize his candidacy. “Me, I am the candidate of women and young people”, he assured. “I fought for forty-five years, I was an opponent, my opponents are officials who became Prime Ministers after bringing the country to the ground. It is extraordinary that I am considered an anti-democratic dictator! »He launched, annoyed, recently on France 24 and RFI.

He also praises his record: construction of hydroelectric dams, revision of mining contracts and bringing the army to heel, while the country has gone through the worst Ebola epidemic in history (December 2013-2016). But, despite the richness of its subsoil, more than half of Guinea’s population lives below the poverty line, on less than one euro a day, according to the UN.

Human Rights Watch denounces for its part the disastrous consequences on the environment and the populations of the “dazzling growth” of the exploitation of bauxite, the main mineral allowing the production of aluminum, of which the country holds the most important world reserves.

Claiming to be from the left, Alpha Condé is a learned orator, who knows how to seduce his audience, but he does not appreciate contradiction. “I am shocked to hear you say that Guinea did not emerge, I am shocked, frankly. I’m shocked ! »He railed throughout an interview in 2018 to French media for the 60e independence anniversary.

Sanguin, Alpha Condé certainly is, as when he reprimands students who ask him for the computer tablets promised for his re-election in 2015. “You are like kids: tablets, tablets! He squeaks, jumping in place with both feet.

But it is above all his uncompromising desire to endow the country with a new Constitution that has divided the Guineans. According to Amnesty International, the crackdown on mass protests against a third term has killed at least 50 people since October 2019. “I do not take Amnesty International seriously. They carry out investigations, unilateral reports, ”retorts the president. Socialist, he is one of the last African presidents trained “à la française”, friend of Bernard Kouchner and François Hollande.

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His fate merges with the history of Guinea

The fate of Alpha Condé has its source in Boké, in Maritime Guinea, on March 4, 1938, within a family of rather wealthy Malinké traders. Long years of opposition in exile, prison, an almost miraculous rise to power and two presidential terms have forged his character.

He left for France at the age of 15 and obtained diplomas in economics, law and sociology. He then taught at the Parisian University of the Sorbonne. At the same time, in the 1960s, he led the Federation of Students of Black Africa in France (FEANF) and led movements in opposition to the dictatorial regime of Ahmed Sékou Touré, “father of independence” of Guinea, who held him back. sentenced to death in absentia in 1970.

He returned to the country in 1991, seven years after the death of Sékou Touré, succeeded by officer Lansana Conté. In the presidential elections of 1993 and 1998, neither free nor transparent, Condé was officially credited with 27% and 18% of the votes. He nevertheless worries Lansana Conté, who had him arrested after the 1998 presidential election and sentenced in 2000 to five years in prison. Under international pressure, he was pardoned in 2001. He remained in the opposition after the advent of the junta of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara in 2008.

But, in 2010, “Professor Alpha Condé” – married three times and father of a boy – was finally elected in the second round, after having been clearly left behind in the first by the former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo. In 2015, he was re-elected in the first round, far ahead of his main opponent, whom he found again against him this Sunday. “This election will be played for Alpha Condé on (his faculty) to put forward (his) public policies; the other stake is the rupture, it is the conquest for Cellou Dalein Diallo ”, according to Kabinet Fofana, president of the Association of political sciences. “The question of Alpha Condé’s age comes up straight away,” he said.

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