Authors: Koala Oumarou, Julien Niankoye Bolamou
Affiliated Organization: Search for Common Ground
Type of publication: Report
Date of publication: September, 2018
*Les Wathinotes sont des extraits de publications choisies par WATHI et conformes aux documents originaux. Les rapports utilisés pour l’élaboration des Wathinotes sont sélectionnés par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au contexte du pays. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
Context of the evaluation
The republic of Guinea has recently experienced democratic advances, illustrated in particular by the adoption of a new constitution and two presidential elections. But several years of instability have eroded the national capacities in the management of many key sectors of development. There is a certain atomicity in the centers of decision, which leads to a lack of legibility of coordination mechanisms.
The presidential elections have revealed deep fractures within the Guinean society, requiring a real program of national reconciliation in order to avoid a total loss of confidence between communities and a more serious situation of instability which would erode the social cohesion and the foundations of the Guinean nation.
This fragility of the socio-political climate, the persistence of insecurity and the deep differences between the political actors can have serious consequences on social cohesion and stability in the country. One of the manifestations of the fragility of the socio-political climate in Guinea continues to be the persistent ethnic divisions, the strong propensity of some politicians to want to use their ethnicity as a tool for power conquest, which often leads to more ethnic fragmentation.
The situation has worsened to such an extent that deep-seated hatred and suspicion has settled in between neighboring communities so much so that a conflict between two individuals can lead to extreme violence outbreak between communities from different ethnic groups as it happened in 2013 between the Guerze and Konianké communities.
The Konianké people are primarily Muslims, and the Guérzés are people who come from the surrounding forests and are generally Christians or animists. News of the fighting which started in Koulé between two individuals spread quickly to nearby Nzérékoré, Guinea’s second largest city.
Sociodemographic characteristics of the respondents
The education level has an impact on the responses that are given by the respondents about their opinions on the intercommunity violence and the extent to which ethnicity should play a role in politics, their ability to defend their rights, as well as their perceptions and attitudes towards the project implemented by SFCG in their communities.
Relevance with regards to the socio-political context
The project was implemented at a time when the Republic of Guinea was going through a difficult moment in its political life marked by the delay in the implementation of certain aspects included in the political agreement of October 12th, 2016, the non-acceptance of the results of the local elections by the opposition and the perspective for the establishment of future district leaders, communal councils and regional councils.
This fragility of the socio-political climate, the persistence of insecurity and the deep differences between the political actors can have serious consequences on social cohesion and stability in the country. One of the manifestations of the fragility of the socio-political climate in Guinea continues to be the persistent ethnic divisions, the strong propensity of some politicians to want to use their ethnicity as a tool for power conquest, which often leads to more ethnic fragmentation
Since the multiparty democratic process has started in Guinea, there has never been any national election conducted in the country at any level that has not been contested by those who have been declared losers. The CENI itself whose members are chosen by the executive powers has always been a contentious body in the country’s political configuration.
This has created doubts among the political elite on the opposition side and the opposition leaders use the situation to incite their followers into often violent protests to contest the legitimacy of the CENI. Consequently, before and after every electoral consultation, violent riots are observed throughout the country.
“The end of military dictatorship and the opening of the country to multiparty democracy have led to real disappointment with our political leadership and steered the country towards mutual suspicion and ethnic hatred. Until the year 1993 when we first organized what was supposed to be our first multi-party democratic elections, ethnicity was not a major factor in the political process. The two biggest ethnic groups in Guinea are the Peuls and the Malinkés.
Before the multiparty political system started, there was not any problem between them. Although there are lots of minority groups in the country, people were not judged according to their ethnicity and they were not awarded jobs based on that.
However, with the multiparty system, everything changed because the political elite poisoned the system by always identifying with their ethnic groups to the detriment of the others. I sometimes regret why I fought against military dictatorship”.
A participants to the SWOT Analysis in Nzérékoré
“The political leadership in Guinea has generated a lot of frustration, mistrust and misgivings among the population and conflicts between people from different ethnic and religions. The conflicts have been worsening the coexistence between people who are bound to lives together side by side to the extent that is impossible to foresee where the next conflicts will come from.
Since the multiparty democratic process has started in Guinea, there has never been any national election conducted in the country at any level that has not been contested by those who have been declared losers. The CENI itself whose members are chosen by the executive powers has always been a contentious body in the country’s political configuration
Moreover, there has not been any agreed upon mechanisms that enable the public authorities to anticipate or foresee potential sources of problems and act upon them. Leadership at community level, whether it is traditional, political or religious has generally not played a positive role in preventing violence and there has not been much cooperation between the community actors who can influence their peers into finding peaceful resolution to conflicts.”
Election stakeholders’ knowledge of EW signs of election violence
The project involved the main election and community stakeholders both at national and local levels in its activities. At in the incept of the implementation, SFCG convened high-level consultation meetings with key election stakeholders at both the national and subnational levels, political party leaders, security and justice actors, the media, and civil society actors to introduce the goals of the project, and detail the ways in which it was going to be implemented.
The goal of the gatherings at national level was also to garner information from the stakeholders about the political processes and their perceptions about what needs to be done to address violence during the political consultations throughout the country.
Success story: Guéckédou women sanitation workers’ strike:
“The city of Guéckédou is known in Guinea for being among the most restless cities in the country. Since multiparty democracy has been restored, there has not been any election year without violent riots in the city. It is also the city where the Ebola outbreak started and the disease spread out because of the populations’ violent rejection of the quarantines at the beginning of the outbreak.
This has created doubts among the political elite on the opposition side and the opposition leaders use the situation to incite their followers into often violent protests to contest the legitimacy of the CENI. Consequently, before and after every electoral consultation, violent riots are observed throughout the country
When the Guéckédou platform was created, it coincided with a violent strike by the union of the city’s women sanitation workers who had not been paid for several months. The situation was made worse by the fact that during the strike, a split along ethnic lines occurred within the union itself causing the workers to fight between themselves and to march on the streets of Guéckédou burning tires and cars. Because the violence was about to turn into ethnic division, no one could predict its consequences”
The situation within Guinea at the time of the project’s implementation was characterized by pre and post-electoral violence throughout the country. The political elite is not in general promoting reconciliation but rather often almost openly advocating for ethnocentrism in a volatile context.
The CSOs all throughout the country did not have the capacities to effectively counter the vitriolic political discourse and do not have the capacities to provide accurate and unbiased information to better inform the public about the electoral process.
Through the platforms, the project has also increased the key elections stakeholders’ capacity to identify and analyze the emerging risks of communal and electoral violence. These stakeholders have actively not only sensitized their communities’ members on the risks of violence during elections but they also have responded to risks of violence beyond election periods.
Every time an alert was sent, they have taken the initiative to engage dialog in order to avert violent incidents.