In the West African country of Guinea, the ruling military junta is preparing to hand over power to a civilian government after the country's June 27 presidential election. The poll would be the first open and competitive presidential election since independence in 1958, and all parties engaged in the country's transition process appear committed to peace and dialogue, according to a communiqué released on May 30 in Conakry, the capital.
The statement was issued by a delegation led by former president of Cape Verde Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro. It assessed the pre-election environment based on meetings with Prime Minister Jean-Marie Doré, the National Transition Council, members of the electoral commission, candidates, representatives of the military; women leaders and civil society activists.
Members of the delegation were optimistic that the election will be conducted peacefully. "The electoral campaign is being held without clashes and major incidents," the communiqué said. "Leaders of political parties take seriously their high level of responsibility by making sure that their activities adhere to legal standards, mutual respect and applying the code of conduct they have signed."
But the delegation also identified several areas for improvement. It said the election commission has not communicated sufficiently with the public about the voting process, and it has not provided parties and candidates with full access to information regarding the legal framework for the electoral process. In addition, Guinea's security forces do not appear to understand fully their role in maintaining peace during the electoral period, and do not have the logistical support or equipment necessary to carry out their responsibilities.
The delegation stressed the importance of communication, dialogue and information sharing among those involved in the electoral process, including the interim government, the National Assembly, the election commission, local officials, security forces, political parties, candidates and voters. "The mission encourages the transitional authorities to continue to assure and maintain the neutrality of the defense and security forces and their commitment to adhere to their mission," the communiqué said.
NDI organized the mission to Guinea from May 26-30 to demonstrate support for the transition process, reinforce the importance of dialogue in democratization efforts and share best practices. Other members of the delegation included Amidou Diabaté, member of the National Assembly and former minister of justice of Mali; Marie-Madeleine Kalala, former minister of human rights of the Democratic Republic of Congo; General Fernand Amoussou, former chief of staff of the army of Benin; Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI senior associate for Africa; and Raphael Ouattara, NDI's resident representative in Guinea.
Following a series of repressive rulers and military coups that have failed to improve standards of living in one of Africa's poorest countries, Guineans are hopeful that credible elections will provide impetus for democratic development. Guinea's current leader, General Sékouba Konaté, came to power after an assassination attempt against junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara by his aide-de-camp in on Dec. 3. Konaté announced plans for a speedy transition process and pledged not to stand as a candidate. He also banned all members of the transition government from running for president.
The delegation said it hoped the upcoming elections will enable the people of Guinea to choose their leaders and signal the start of a new era in Guinean political development. "The mission expresses its wishes for a successful election and its solidarity with the generous and dignified people of Guinea and its leaders," the communiqué said.
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Pictured above: Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, former president of Cape Verde (left) and Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI senior associate for Africa (right).
Published on June 14, 2010