Mediation: Fail ?

Since arriving in Liberia, I haven’t been following the news as much as I’d like to – I blame the painfully slow internet, which allows me to do the bare minimum in terms of emails/uploading. Prior to this, however, I had been following the events unfolding in Guinea since the September 28 massacre closely. Skimming through the 1000+ articles on my Google Reader, I was stunned to read the following headline on Bloomberg: “Guinea Mediator Wants Junta to Lead Transition, RFI Reports

Stunned because, since September 28, the international community, the Guinean opposition and essentially every single official and civilian voice outside the ruling military junta has been calling for Captain Dadis Camara to step down, and making his departure from the government a pre-condition for setting up a transitional government and moving towards free elections.

Now, Blaise Compaore, who, as I described in a previous blog post is not exactly a model of democratic leadership, recommends for Dadis to remain in power for an additional 10 months, starting in December; for a prime minister to be appointed from the opposition; and, as sole condition for running in the elections, would-be candidates (including Dadis) must leave the government four months prior.

I just cannot understand why Compaore would make this recommendation? Not only is this way more than Dadis ever hoped for, but it also flies in the face of every single diplomatic effort thus far to have Dadis leave power immediately. The 10 month time frame also seems an unnecessarily drawn out interim period. A spokesperson for Dadis announced yesterday that the junta leader’s candidacy was “not negotiable”, nor would they “discuss the break-up of the CNDD (the junta)“.

That is frankly fascinating: Dadis originally came to power claiming that he would quickly call for free and fair elections, elections in which he would not run. Now, not only has he reneged on these original promises which won him a fair amount of popular support, but he has now completed a complete 180 – and the man supposed to resolve the deadlock between the junta and the opposition is showing signs of partiality towards Dadis. The African Union had an October 17 deadline by which Dadis was supposed to commit – in writing – to not running in a presidential election in Guinea. The AU let the deadline expire, while Dadis was calling for the question to be turned over to the Burkinabese mediation. I don’t want to make unsupported allegations, but it seems that Dadis knew very well what he was doing, putting the fate of his regime in the hands of Compaore…

Francois Grignon, of The International Crisis Group, wrote a piece last week entitled “Guinea: the junta must leave“:

Notwithstanding the international pressure, Dadis Camara’s behavior remains unequivocal. The military junta has denied  any responsibility in the massacre and has refused to release those who were  arrested during the September demonstration. Dadis remains the Head of State despite calls for him to step down and the public administration has been militarized. All but three of 33 prefects have been replaced by military officers since 2008. Pro-junta support groups and youth organizations have been created throughout the country. The situation is particularly worrying in Guinea Forestière, where Camara’s supporters play on the resentment of local communities against Malinkés, Fulanis or Sousou, three ethnic groups that are seen as beneficiaries of previous regimes. Now idle, former militias are ready to take up arms to fight again, adding to the general tension.

The United States, France, the European Union, the African Union and ECOWAS have all imposed sanctions and embargoes on the junta, and have been joining Guinean opposition leaders in calling for Dadis to step down, over and over, since the fateful September day. For example:

The solution to the Guinean crisis is the departure of the military junta” – Mamadou Mouctar Diallo, Nov. 3 (Guinean opposition)

The United States wants you [Dadis] to step aside and we want you to allow the transition that you called for earlier to go forward” – William Fitzgerald, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

While the Guinean opposition initially rejected Compaore’s proposal, declaring it “partial and biased“, they are softening their stance, and have issued a counter proposal, in which they insists that Dadis’ departure is “not negotiable”, and that none of the members of the ruling junta should be allowed to run in the presidential election. More negotiations are scheduled to take place in Ouagadougou this week.

While Compaore noted that his proposals were “merely a preliminary phase of the negotiation“, I still find it astounding that he would put forward recommendations that so clearly refute the consensus expressed by the international community and the Guinean opposition.

I agree with former Guinean Prime Minister Sidya Toure, who said in response to President Compaore’s proposal, that the internationally appointed mediator “needs to try again.”

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