Monday, August 21, 2006

Guinea's power vacuum

The BBC's Focus on Africa magazine has a good summary of the internal power struggles within the Guinean regime and the risks of the country becoming a failed state. Gen. Lansana Conté's regime actually did quite a bit to modernize Guinea during his first decade in power, almost all of which was under formal military rule. But shortly after the implementation of the facade of democracy, such modernization stalled to the point where the Guinean state is creaky and sclerotic, virtually irrelevant to most citizens except to occassionally harass them. When I lived there, I was often told by Guineans that they'd learned a lot from watching the anarchy that was then consuming their southern neighbors of Sierra Leone and Guinea (and has also since affected western neighbors Côte d'Ivoire and northern neighbors Guinea-Bissau) and would never let that happen in their country. Most ordinary Guineans are smart enough to realize this but the question is will the political elites plunge their nation into the abyss rather than concede an inch of power or will they show enough noble wisdom to save their country? Sadly, noble wisdom seems to be greatly lacking in the Guinean political class.

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