2007-06-22 13:07:00
Embassy Conakry
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DE RUEHRY #0710/01 1731307
P 221307Z JUN 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 CONAKRY 000710 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2017


Classified By: Political Officer Jessica Davis Ba. Reasons 1.4 (b) and






E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2017


Classified By: Political Officer Jessica Davis Ba. Reasons 1.4 (b) and


1. (C) Over the last six months, Guinea has experienced one
of the most tumultuous periods in its history. The popular
social movement that swept through the nation demonstrated
the power of the streets to effectuate change, yet there have
been few transformations in the daily functioning of the
state. While Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate continues to
enjoy popular support, President Lansana Conte maintains his
strong hold on power and Conte's inner circle continues to
block fundamental reforms. The "consensus" cabinet has
become a thin facade for a dysfunctional government that has
neither been restructured nor reformed to reflect a new
vision embodied by the Prime Minister. Kouyate has failed to
get staffing approved for his ministries and there have been
no new governors, prefects, or sub-prefects put into place to
administer the rest of the nation. In most government
offices, activities are at a standstill. There is a clear
power struggle as the Prime Minister attempts to get his
people on board, while Conte and his clan maintain their
coterie in the positions that count.

2. (C) In this context, the population is once again
becoming impatient. With unrealistically high expectations
for the "consensus" government, many have expressed
disappointment with persistent blockages and lack of concrete
results. Increasingly, Guineans are identifying President
Conte as the root of all problems. As Prime Minister Kouyate
returned from an apparently successful trip to the U.S.,
France, and Libya, Conte proclaimed his position as "chief"
with all others his "subordinates". Although there are
currently a divisions among the labor unions, civil society,
and the political parties, with each fighting over what role
they should play, all agree that the current situation will
inevitably lead to another crisis. With a re-alignment of

opposition parties and a fragmented PUP, Guinea's political
class is planning for next steps. With elections still
months away, most Guineans predict that "something" has to
happen in order to break the log jam that currently plagues
the nation. End Summary.

First 100 Days Yield Few Reforms

3. (C) After taking an extended period of time to name his
cabinet, Prime Minister Kouyate finally announced ON MARCH 28
the names of the individuals who would lead the "consensus"
government. In the three months since the appointments, the
Prime Minister has been extremely visible and open with
communications, but with few concrete results. While Kouyate
streamlined and re-organized the ministries, no
administrative staffing changes have been made, even within
the Prime Minister's own office. In some cases (like the
Ministry of Education),there remain three secretaries
general and all the directorates and divisions remain exactly
as they were within the old government structure. In the
ministries, most of the leadership is convinced they will
lose their jobs, and staff does not know to whom to report.
In most offices, work is at a standstill with no clearly
delineated roles and responsibilities. While the Prime
Minister and his cabinet concluded their recent retreat with
a list of priorities (reftel),it is difficult to see how any
progress can be made toward them given the current situation
with regard to staffing and appointments. Average citizens
have begun to question whether they will enjoy the "fruits"
of their demands for change during the January-February
general strike or whether the sacrifices were all in vain.

4. (C) When Kouyate entered office, he promised to
re-instate control over the administration of the state and
to repair the destruction that took place in "30 of Guinea's
33 prefectures." To date, the Prime Minister has still not
named the governors, prefects, and sub-prefects to administer
the interior. Kouyate has reportedly presented numerous
lists to President Conte, with each being systematically
rejected. Guineans regard these appointments as a litmus
test for the Prime Minister. Without state administrators,
many have argued that no reconstruction or development
efforts can be implemented and that election preparations
cannot even begin. While the Prime Minister still enjoys
widespread public support in the interior, our contacts have

CONAKRY 00000710 002 OF 004

told us that in most areas, the population is becoming
increasingly restless and question whether the Prime Minister
is able lead Guinea through this transitional period.

I am Still In Charge

5. (C) At the same time that the Prime Minister was wrapping
up his recent trip to the U.S., France, and Libya, President
Conte was flexing his muscle back at home. While Guineans
wait to hear the results of the visits abroad, they were
instead reminded of Conte's hold over the state. In an
impromptu interview with AFP on June 15, President Conte made
it clear that he has not conceded his power to the Prime
Minister. When asked by the reporter whether one can speak
of a transition period, Conte emphatically replied, "there is
no transition in Guinea. I am the chief, the others are my
deputies and my subordinates. That's all! There is no
transition here!" Conte downplayed Guinea's recent crisis as
a moment provoked by misunderstandings that are now in its
past -- problems that exist in all democratic nations. The
interview took place when Conte dropped in on his close
friend and ally, controversial businessman, Futurelec
president, and honorary president of the majority PUP party
Mamadou Sylla.

6. (C) While both Conte and Kouyate publicly state that
relations between them are good, many insiders have told us
that tensions are high. Former Prime Minister and opposition
leader Sidya Toure told Poloff in a recent meeting that
Kouyate has failed by not marking his territory clearly and
early. Toure said that it is already too late and that it
was just a matter of time before Kouyate either quits or is
either dismissed. In his interview, Presdient Conte alluded
to the familiar fate of his past prime ministers: "If I name
one, it is because I want one. If not, I have always led
Guinea without a Prime Minister. Sometimes, I take one and
we do not get along and he goes -- it is he who goes. Me, I
stay." Some have begun to speculate how long Prime Minister
Kouyate can fight against the tide. President Conte and his
coterie continue to pull the strings behind the scenes and
have effectively stymied any advances or reforms that the
Prime Minister and his cabinet attempt.

-------------- --------------
Political Positioning and Strengthened Opposition
-------------- --------------

7. (C) As the "consensus" government struggles to hit its
stride, the popular consensus among civil society, unions,
party members, and average citizens that brought it to power
has disintegrated. While the unions clearly took the lead
during the general strike and protests of January-February,
they were backed by opposition party leaders who encouraged
their constituents to support the movement. Now, there are
accusations going in all directions about the roles and
responsibilities of civil society at large versus the
political class. Political parties have made it clear that
Guinea's constitution only allows them to present candidates
for election. By using this argument, they have attempted to
discredit the ascension of the Prime Minister, describing
Kouyate as isolated with no political base. At the same
time, there is a common belief that civil society leaders
stepped into a void and succeeding where political parties
have failed.

8. (C) As political parties attempt to redefine themselves
and prepare to participate in the electoral process, the
opposition is gaining steam. Upon the announcement of
Mamadou Sylla as honorary president of the majority PUP
party, most of the smaller parties allied with the PUP broke
rank (reftel). These parties known as the "Mouvance" are now
aligned with the major opposition leaders. In May, 14
parties from the Mouvance joined Sidya Toure's Union of
Republican Forces (UFR) to create the National Alliance for
Democracy (ANAD) that Toure claims is also allied with other
major opposition leaders. Also in May, eleven parties from
the Mouvance aligned with Alpha Conde and his Rally of
Guinean People (RPG) to create the Coalition of Live Forces
for Change. Parliamentary opposition leader Ousmane Bah,
President of the Union for Progress and Renewal (UPR),told
Poloff that his party is still in negotiation with others to
form yet another coalition. These new political alliances
reflect a stronger and more mature opposition, positioning
itself to have much greater influence in the legislative
elections. All are talking seriously about the ramifications
of legislative elections, particularly how to make the
National Assembly a true counterweight to the regime and

CONAKRY 00000710 003 OF 004

using it to constitutionally change the pendulum of power.

Living Conditions Degrade and Prices Rise

9. (C) While political positioning continues, the
"bread-and-butter" issues that face the majority of the
population are far from resolved. Economic conditions remain
dire and, for many, it remains a daily struggle to feed their
families. Guinea's citizens believed the appointment of a
Prime Minister as Head of Government would automatically
create the conditions necessary to improve their quality of
life. While Kouyate emphasizes the provision of water and
electricity as his most urgent priorities, few improvements
have been made in either sector. Some complain that the
public utilities have even worsened. While most understand
that an overhaul of the public utilities will take time,
Kouyate's team has failed to deliver immediate fixes or a
concrete plan of action to address these basic services.

10. (C) Part of the January strike settlement was to fix the
prices of basic necessities and to ban exports of foodstuffs
and other products the unions argued should remain in the
local market. Although prices initially decreased, Guineans
have now begun to complain about their steady rise. The
CNTG-USTG union coalition has begun to make clear statements
demanding lower prices. On June 19, the Prime Minister met
with the interministerial committee responsible for price
controls to discuss measures to decrease the prices of
essential food items. The committee adopted a measure to
more strongly enforce the export ban on food items, timber,
and petroleum products. Now that Guinea's rainy season has
begun, the population is bracing for the increases in food
prices that normally occur at this time of year. However,
they are now calling into force the signed agreement on price
levels and demanding that the government do its part to
maintain prices that are blow normal market values. Some
union leaders have told us that if the government does not
uphold its side of the negotiated agreement, they will once
again begin strike preparations.

Ethnic Card Increasingly Played

11. (C) In the midst of the growing uncertainty, in recent
weeks, anonymous and virulently discriminatory papers
"documenting" various plots by ethnic groups to keep or gain
power have made their rounds in Guinea's major cities. These
ethnic tracts accuse one ethnic group of using the strikes
and related violence to gain advantage over another in
securing its hold on power. In a recent meeting with the
Ambassador, President of the National Assembly Aboubacar
Sompare employed an over-simplistic ethnic model to describe
the current climate. Sompare claimed that there would be no
more strikes because the Soussou ethnic group realized that
recent events disadvantaged them -- they would throw their
support behind Conte to ensure their position.

12. (C) Public discussion of the "ethnic factor" is no
longer taboo. Sompare's comments reflect a growing trend by
entrenched members of Guinea's old school political class as
they revert to old ways of thinking and doing business.
While most Guineans refuse to play the ethnic card, they
acknowledge that powerful actors are trying to use these
divisions to prevent any new wave of united popular action.
At present, Conte loyalists (many of whom found their
property under attack by violent mobs in February) are now
beginning to re-emerge and make their presence felt.

Comment: This is Not Finished

13. (C) In what has become a familiar refrain, Guineans of
every stripe have told us the popular movement unleashed at
the beginning of the year is far from over. Despite Conte's
assurances that Guinea's problems are all now in its past,
all indications are that tensions are on the rise as the "old
guard" and the "reformers" continue their battle for the
future direction of Guinea. Despite his best efforts, Prime
Minister Kouyate has thus far not shown that he can keep the
forces of the past at bay. With growing pressure for
concrete action, Kouyate's team has produced few results.
With frustrations rising, the population has started
preparing for what they feel is an inevitable next phase of
Guinea's crisis. Some have predicted that it might be
unleashed with a new strike that may gain momentum in

CONAKRY 00000710 004 OF 004

September while others believe that the legislative elections
may become the next flash point. While the time frame
remains unclear, there is an almost unanimous belief that
"something" will happen.

14. (C) Increasingly, Guinean citizens are once again
voicing their belief that President Conte is the main source
of Guinea's problems. Many have expressed their support of
Prime Minister Kouyate's capacity and in the ability of most
(but not all) members of the Prime Minister's team. They
insist that the cabinet is unable to work because of
systematic roadblocks set by Conte and his coterie. Others
insist that no matter how capable Kouyate mayt be, the Prime
Minister is merely a puppet being controlled by Guinea's
entrenched interests. While political opposition, union, and
civil society leaders are posturing, it is unclear who might
take the first step to re-ignite the movement for change.
Over the next few months, it remains to be seen if the Prime
Minister can assert his leadership or who might step in to
fill the void.