Have two former African presidents leading a protest-stricken Guinea mission apologized to President Alpha Condé? One of the organizations that sent them falsified on Monday against claims to that effect on national television.
The former presidents of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) and Benin Nicéphore Soglo (1991-1996) led an assessment mission last week with a view to the legislative elections scheduled for February 2020.
Guinea has been in the grips of agitation and demonstrations since mid-October against the project lent to President Condé, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015, to seek his own succession at the end of 2020 and to revise the Constitution to that end, which limits to two the number of presidential terms.
The mission commissioned by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an NGO based in Washington and working on democratic practices, and the Kofi Annan foundation established in Geneva aimed to assess the situation and make recommendations to avoid electoral violence, according to its organizers.
The international community is concerned about the risk of escalation in a country with a troubled history, customary of protests and brutal repression. The protests that have been going on since October have been brutally suppressed on several occasions. At least 20 civilians were killed, as well as a gendarme. Dozens of people were arrested.
The mission met with government officials, including the president, the opposition, parties and civil society.
“Manipulated” by NDI and the Kofi Annan foundation
Against all expectations, Guinean Radio Television stated in its newspaper on Saturday evening that President Condé had received his two ex-counterparts before their departure and had « expressed his surprise » to see them in Guinea « without any official information ».
The two men expressed “their regrets and admitted to having been manipulated by NDI and the Kofi Annan foundation. An apology has been made on the move, ”said national television, close to the government.
Christopher Fomunyoh, an NDI official and member of the delegation joined by the AFP, declined to comment on the allegations, citing his refusal to divert attention from important issues. But he assured that the mission had been conducted « transparently, in coordination with the Guinean authorities ».
The mission released its recommendations on Friday. The first advocated that the government clarify its positions on the Constitution.
At 81, Mr. Condé, a former historic opponent who was the first democratically elected president after decades of authoritarian and military regimes, remains unclear about his intentions, but launched consultations in September on the Constitution.
The Kofi Annan Foundation did not respond to questions from the AFP.