A BELGIAN-GUINEAN POLITICIAN’S AMBITION:
Taking over the Guinean presidency in 2020
For more than a year, Guinea has once again been plunged into political uncertainty. On September 22, 2019, during an informal meeting in New York on the sidelines of a UN summit, President Alpha Condé made it clear to his supporters that they had to stand ready to support him in his race to a third term. However, according to the Guinean constitution of 2010 the president was limited to two five-year terms. Elected for the first time 10 years ago, Alpha Condé, 82, should therefore have completed his presidency in December 2020. But to be able to stand legally before the Guineans for a third term, Alpha Condé then decided to vote for a new one. constitution by referendum. This popular vote to take place at the same time as the renewal of the Guinean parliament.
For its part, the opposition had anticipated the plans of President Condé given the postponement, on several occasions, of the legislative elections. Many opponents of the Alpha Condé regime were also arrested as early as April and May 2019. This led to protests and clashes in the capital, Conakry.
Faced with what the opposition calls a constitutional coup d’etat, the FNDC (National Front for the Defense of the Constitution) began to demonstrate in early October in Conakry and in the main cities of the country. It is a movement bringing together part of the political opposition and members of civil society. Government repression has resulted in the deaths of dozens of people since October 2019. According to several human rights groups, at least 80 people have lost their lives during the protests.
In January 2020, the European chancelleries began to be moved by the repression of the power of Alpha Condé against the demonstrators and strongly criticized the maneuvers of the president at the end of the fiscal year. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, did not hide his annoyance at Alpha Condé’s new constitution project. “We are now particularly concerned about the situation in Guinea and we call for appeasement,” the boss of Quai D’Orsay told the French national assembly. A message that he reiterated last July by emphasizing the fragile nature of Guinean democracy.
Last February, this time it was Jospe Borrell, the European High Representative for External Affairs and Security, who expressed concerns about the situation in Guinea. “The European Union’s concerns have been confirmed by the recent statements made by the International Organization of La Francophonie in its communiqué of 24 February on the state of the Guinean electoral register and by the African Union’s decision, announced on Friday 28 February 2020, to recall the mission sent to observe the legislative elections of 1 March. At present, the lack of inclusiveness and transparency casts doubt on the credibility of future elections. This situation is fueling the risk of divisions and tension within the national community. It is the responsibility of all political actors, and in particular of President Condé, as head of state, to resume dialogue and restore a climate of trust conducive to social peace and the holding of credible elections as scheduled for 2020. The European Union calls for restraint and condemns the use of violence on any side. It supports any initiative from the region to find a peaceful solution to this crisis and calls on Guinean s takeholders to cooperate “, declared the head of European diplomacy in a statement.
The main FNDC leaders like Cellou Dalein Diallo, ex-Prime Minister under the dictatorship of Lansana Conté, or Abdourahamane Sanoh, FNDC coordinator as well as the president of the Pades Ousmane Kaba, all called for a boycott of the legislative elections and the constitutional referendum. of March 22. In the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis, the ballot was still held with an unsurprising result of 85% of the votes in favor of the new constitution.
Following the contested victory of Camp Condé in this double ballot, the European Union once again expressed the highest concerns about the repression of the Alpha Condé regime.
“The non-inclusive and non-consensual nature of these ballots and the electoral roll undermines the credibility of these elections. The lack of recognized regional and international observation also calls into question the validity of the process. Inter-community divisions are growing dangerously. The European Union renews its support for the initiatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) likely to rehabilitate the electoral process , to defuse tensions and to renew a dialogue between all parties, “the EU’s external affairs spokesperson said in a statement on 26 March. Same story on the side of the United States which via their embassy, expressed their “deep concerns” and condemned “all the abuses”. Washington said “share” the international concerns on the organization of the poll, the regularity of the electoral lists retained and the absence of dialogue between the power and the opposition, absence to which the government did not remedy, notes the diplomacy American.
Unfortunately due to the Covd-19 crisis, all scheduled ECOWAS meetings regarding Guinea. The Alpha Condé regime is therefore taking political advantage of the health crisis by rejecting all attempts at international mediation. Faced with the impasse, the Belgian-Guinean world boxing champion Bea Diallo challenged the Guinean president and his opponents in mid-July by offering them national mediation under the aegis of ECOWAS. Bea Diallo’s proposal to negotiate an end to the crisis and peacefully challenge Alpha Condé at the polls is gaining ground. And in the weeks that followed more and more Guinean political figures followed suit.
At the beginning of August, President Alpha Condé was appointed by his party the RPG arc-en-ciel to be his presidential candidate on October 18. He then indicates to take note of this request of his majority but does not yet declare himself a candidate for his own succession. The strongman of Conakry indeed has every interest in buying time to let his adversaries unveil the plans. Candidates wishing to run in the presidential election must make themselves known no later than 30 days before the election.
History of moderne Guinea
1958: independence from France and start of Seikou Touré dictaroship
1984: death of Seikou Touré and start of Lansana Conté dictaroship
2008: death of Lansana Conté and start of dictatorship of Dadis Camara
2009: Dadis Camara is wounded by one of his guard, flee the country and start of the democratic transition
2010: Election of Alpha Condé
2015: Reelection of Alpha Condé
2019: Alpha Condé reveals his plan to do a third term as president
2020: New constitution is voted and massif protests follow
BEA DIALLO ON THE POLITICAL RING
Lansana Bea Diallo is a Belgian-Guinean politician born in Monrovia (Liberia) in 1971. He first rose to prominence as an international business leader and professional boxer. He holds a degree from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in economics with a specialization in marketing. He is a member of the Belgian Socialist Party. He is an honorary member of the Brussels parliament where he sat for 15 years from 2004 to 2019. He currently holds the position of 1st alderman in Ixelles but he joined the Ixelles executive in 2006. Today, he is notably in charge of Finances, Human Resources, Pensions, Prevention, Youth, Employment, Social Integration, Twinning, International Cooperation and Sport.
He began his boxing career in 1990 with a title of Belgian amateur champion before turning professional, two years later. Between 1998 and 2004, he won the title of intercontinental IBF (International Boxing Federation) middleweight champion seven times. In 2003 and 2005, he lost to Raymond Joval for the IBO middleweight title and ended his career with a WBF super middleweight title in 2007 on a record of 25 wins, 18 losses and 4. draws.
From the start of his political career, Bea Diallo established himself as a defender of the anti-racist struggle. In his municipality of Ixelles, he has also carried out numerous social integration initiatives involving young people from Brussels. One of its flagship projects was the creation of the non-profit organization “Emergence XL” which helps disadvantaged young people find their socio-professional path through sport and especially boxing. The support structure includes, among other things, a ring, a dojo and a weight room as well as a space for job coaching. In 10 years, several hundred young people in Brussels have been able to be helped in this way.
The world boxing champion has also been very active in Guinea. Politically, he notably participated in the way out of the crisis during the transition period in 2010 following the murderous interlude of Dadis Camara. Through his association RMGN (New Guinea Global Network), Bea Diallo was able, among other things, to implement a community health center in Tombolia or a sanitation plan to make Conakry cleaner. During the Ebola epidemic in Guinea in 2014, the world boxing champion raised some 35,000 euros to help victims of the disease.
In early 2020, he returned to the ring on behalf of his Fight For Africa foundation against his eternal rival Raymond Joval in a gala fight. Finally, since mid-July when the political situation is inextricable in Guinea, Bea Diallo has offered his services to relaunch mediation between all the leaders in order to start negotiations to get out of the crisis. Its goal? Lead to free and transparent elections in Guinea.
Fight for Africa
Fight for Africa is a social integration project led in Guinea by Bea Diallo. He intends to promote professional training there. In early 2020, the world champion returned to the ring against his eternal rival Raymond Joval for Fight for Africa. The profits collected during this gala fight were entirely devoted to the creation of vocational training centers in Africa.
“BEA DIALLO” EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Your country of origin, Guinea has been plunged into a political crisis since President Alpha Condé announced his wish to change the constitution and possibly run for a third term. What is your perception of the situation?
When I see young Guineans dying, I am grieved and I feel deep anger. It is obviously not the opposition politicians who are on the front line in the face of the regime’s repression. Guinean youth are not cannon fodder. This is why I call on all Guinean leaders to be morally responsible to the people. Special interests cannot continue to take precedence over the lives of our fellow citizens. Everyone must come to their senses and come to the table to resolve this conflict peacefully. I therefore call on all parties of good will and who want the good of Guineans to put an end to the violence and to prepare for free and transparent presidential elections.
As I have already said, Guinean politicians must sit around the table to find a compromise. And I hear more and more people in Guinea talking about dialogue, but I expect concrete advances both from the power in place and from the opposition. In mid-August, the United States reiterated the importance of a return to calm. This proves that the international community is also paying particular attention to the situation in Guinea and that my approach is unofficially approved. With the support of the international community, I believe that a real negotiation process can begin. This was already the case during the transition period in 2010. At the time, I had modestly contributed my stone to the building of peace in Guinea. But I do not want to be a brake on possible negotiations between the power of Alpha Condé and the opposition. This is why I support the ECOWAS mediation. Unfortunately with the Covid-19 health crisis, all discussions have stalled. To try to relaunch this process, I sent a letter to all the Guinean party presidents, to the representatives of the four natural regions of Guinea as well as a president Alpha Condé. I hope that Guinea will take an important step towards reconciliation in the coming weeks. What is certain is that only dialogue and free and transparent elections will be able to get Guinea out of partisan quarrels.
What do you propose in your mediation plan?
I propose a national mediation under the aegis of ECOWAS with the participation of the heads of 4 natural regions of Guinea as well as under the high patronage of the religious eminences of the country. This group of Sages made up of Guinean dignitaries will provide high-level moral support to this mediation which obviously intends to include all the democratic tendencies of the country. I believe that we need to establish a credible electoral calendar which should lead to free and transparent elections. All the parties can, I think, agree on the revision of the electoral roll under international supervision. I also want the presence of international observers to assess the electoral process. I am therefore asking the international community to monitor the election with modern means such as GPS beacons on the ballot boxes or other procedures. The newly elected president will also have to commit to forming a government of National Union to peacefully get the country out of the crisis. Finally, there will be a need for a national reconciliation plan that will have to recognize and compensate the victims of repression after an independent investigation.
How do you judge the presidency of Alpha Condé?
President Alpha Condé is an important man in the history of Guinea, but it is time for him to pass the baton. He sacrificed several years of his life for democracy in our country. And the Guineans are grateful to him. He fought the dictatorship of Lansana Conté and even went to prison for it. Alpha Condé has succeeded in redressing Guinea’s economic indicators, which is a good thing. But the economic spinoffs benefit the Guinean people too little. Corruption and nepotism are still too often rife. The gray areas on the attribution of certain mining and port concessions must be removed.
Today, the fact that Alpha Condé seems to cling to power undermines his democratic struggle. He who has proclaimed himself the Guinean Mandela is more likely to end up as Robert Mugabe. Many voices around the world are also speaking out against repression. In early August, Amnesty International again denounced in a column published by Le Monde the repression of the regime. Some 200 victims are to be deplored since his accession to power and I fear the worst if he is re-elected for a third term next October. I am convinced that the best way to beat Alpha Condé is at the polls. Having said that, my preference is obviously to withdraw his candidacy. It could thus avoid many unnecessary victims and inscribe its democratic heritage in a lasting way in the history of Guinea.
What role do you want to play in Guinea? And are you a candidate for the presidential election?
I have said this before, I want the best for my home country and I am committed in all possible ways to help it. My person does not matter. If the Guineans want me to run then I will. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a barrier to reconciliation and for now I want to focus mainly on the mediation that I have proposed.
Can you explain your political background in Belgium?
I was elected to the Brussels parliament from my first election in 2004. I stayed there for 15 years as a regional deputy but I also sat in the parliament of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, where I chaired the Commission des Relations internationales and European issues.
I have also worked in the Committee on Youth and Youth Aid as well as the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women. Finally, I was president of the Health Commission of the French-speaking Brussels Parliament. This shows my attachment to international and European matters but also to everything relating to equality and unfortunately in the area of health there is still work to be done to reduce inequalities.
In 2006, I ran for municipal elections in Ixelles, and at the same time as my Brussels deputy, I became alderman in my municipality. I like being close to people, which is also why in 2018 I focused on my local political career.
And do you plan to stop your political career in Belgium if you had to take on responsibilities in Guinea?
I want to continue my political action in Brussels as long as possible. For the moment, nothing obliges me to leave my functions as alderman in Ixelles. I want to help my country of origin to emerge from the crisis, to conduct this mediation I take my free time and it does not impact my work in the municipality of Ixelles. That said, if one day I have to take political responsibilities in Guinea, of course, I will take political leave for my current activities.
What role should Europe play in resolving the conflict in Guinea?
As a first step, I would like the Guineans to take their destiny in hand and manage to emerge from the crisis on their own. In this case, the European Union must be able to help Guineans on the road to elections by sending observers during the ballot. On the other hand, if the elections are decided in advance then I hope that the European Union will be firm towards the outgoing president.
Finally, the EU also has an interest in helping projects like Fight For Africa to stem the exodus of young Africans.
We see young Africans leaving the continent by the thousands. What do you think is the real cause of this fact?
All over the world it is said that Africa is the future. The paradox is that not all young people on the continent have a future. This situation pushes young people to take enormous risks crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe which is considered Eldorado.
I also believe that a link can be established between the real cause of this youth migration and local economic development. It is important to put in place training tools, as we are doing with our Fight for Africa Foundation, which will allow young people to access the economic development strategy.
David Baudoux / Sergio Bianchini
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