Saturday October 22, 2005

By Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , COCORIOKO’S EDITOR

After Liberia, the next failed African state that the international community would be looking up to see if they are ready to democratize is Guinea , where Municipal Elections are scheduled for December 18.

The  United Nations Development Program ( UNDP)  has pledged $U.S.  500, 000   while the European Unioun ( EU ) will spend $U.S 2.4m   on the forthcoming elections as an encouragement  to the Guinean authorities but they expect  the Guinean government  to reciprocate the gestures by promoting freedom of the press and  freedom of associations and to appoint an independent Electoral Commission .

The Municipal Elections will be a yardstick to determine whether Guinea plans to democratize.  According to IRIN,  one of Guinea’s opposition leaders, Jean -Marie Dore  stated :”We’ll make a decision at the end of the week as to whether or not we’ll take part in December’s municipal elections. ”  Dore is  one of the leaders of the opposition coalition Republican Front for Democratic Change (FRAD).

The opposition in Guinea is very restive and impatient with President Lansana Conte. They epitomize the emotions of the ordinary man in the street in Conakry who fear that unless a drive to democratise Guinea is immediately set into motion, the nation will explode into chaos when Conte dies . There will be too many forces contending for power and some may try to seize control by unconstitutional means. They do not trust the President to stage democratic elections that will lead to a peace transition .

Indeed, last month, the opposition boldly called on President Conte to resign. “You have become a brake, an obstacle to Guinea’s development,” they told him emphatically  “You are not what the country needs. You are sick. You must make the wise decision to leave now before others make it for you.”

It is not possible for sustainable peace  to take hold in Sierra Leone and Liberia if Guinea continues its present sleepwalking into eventual  poltical and economic chaos  under the inept and dictatorial rule of President Lansana Conte. It is a secret no more  that any conflict in any one West African country would spill over to neighbouring states as it happened in Sierra Leone when the timebomb that had been ticking in Liberia for ages exploded in 1989.

The international community, after pouring so much money into Sierra Leone and Liberia  to end the wars there and help them democratise,  understand the situation so well and this explains why focus is now beamed on Guinea as the next target for democratic elections and a government of national concensus and goodwill that will help to promote peace in the sub-region.

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