Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kremlinology in Conakry

During the Cold War, Kremlinology was a favorite activity of journalists and foreign diplomats based in Moscow. It had to do with reading the tea leaves about what was really happening within the Soviet government, especially if the leader was ill. Guinea's head of state Gen. Lansana Conté has been seriously ill for most of this decade and this has paralyzed political life in Guinea. Sycophants are rushing to position themselves properly for Conté's eventual death but without appearing to eager for the demise of the now bedridden 'strongman.' All this while the Guinean economy crumbles.

As such, Kremlinology has been exported to Conakry. Yesterday, Guinea celebrated the 48th anniversary of its independence from France. But the infirm general not only failed to appear at independence celebrations, but he didn't even make his traditional speech to state radio and television.

The state newspaper Horoya published the text of Conté's (unspoken) speech. But its editor and general manager got in hot water because they neglected to publish a picture of 'le géneral-président' alongside the comments. They said they didn't receive a copy of the speech until after the newspaper was almost complete but that didn't satisfy the regime.

The two were suspended by the information minister.

It's a good thing the regime isn't cultivating a cult of personality, something it promised never to do over 20 years ago.

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