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08CONAKRY54 2008-03-31 05:34:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Conakry
Cable title:  

MINISTER OF INTERIOR ON DEPORTEES, ELECTIONS,

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM ASEC GV 
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY. During a March 28 meeting with the
Charge, the Minister of Interior and Security said that the
Guinean Government wants to establish a bilateral agreement
with the U.S. in order to regulate extradition cases, such as
those pending for 40 Guineans awaiting deportation in the
U.S. The minister also commented on elections issues, the
possibility of a labor strike on Monday, and his perspective
on the Chantal Colle affair. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) On March 28, Charge met with the Ministry of
Interior and Security, Beau Keita, to discuss concerns over
lack of documentation for about 40 Guineans awaiting
deportation back to Guinea from the United States. Charge
used the opportunity to discuss several other issues as well.
Poloff and Pol intern were also present. About 15 minutes
into the meeting, the Minister of Mines joined, but did not
say anything during the discussion.



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WE NEED AN EXTRADITION CONVENTION


--------------------------





3. (SBU) With respect to the deportation issue (Ref A),
Keita said that the Guinean Government wants to establish a
bilateral agreement with the United States in order to
regulate these types of situations. Charge said that the
deportees would only arrive in small groups of one or two
individuals, rather than as a large group, which could
attract media attention. Keita said that such small groups
should be acceptable, but that a bilateral convention is
still desirable. He acknowledged that the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs takes the lead on extradition issues, but
that the Ministry of Interior would do a technical review of
any draft convention.



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NOTHING WILL HAPPEN ON MONDAY


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Charge asked about the March 31 union deadline and
the potential for civil unrest. Keita said that &we will
have absolutely no problems.8 He repeatedly emphasized that
there will be no activity, but that if on the off chance
there is, the ministry will respond accordingly to maintain
security. When Charge mentioned underlying economic
difficulties and general tensions among the population, Keita
was unconcerned. He said that &everyone knows the fuel
prices have to go up, and that high prices on goods are
linked to high international prices.8



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CO-MANAGING ELECTIONS


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Turning to elections, Poloff asked the minister
whether a decision had been made regarding whether a national
identification card would be required in addition to a voter
registration card in order for a citizen to be eligible to
vote in the upcoming elections. Keita said that the issue
had not yet been decided, but that the electoral code
stipulates that a national identification card is required.
He said that it is an important debate and he wants all
interested parties to participate in order to ensure an
acceptable decision for all. Keita added that he is having
such a debate organized in the coming weeks. According to
the minister, if everyone agrees that a national
identification card is not needed, he will follow their will,
even though it would not conform exactly to the law.



6. (SBU) Charge noted that the Minister had recently
established a committee for co-managing elections, with
representatives from both the ministry and the National
Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). Keita confirmed
that the committee will have five members each from the
ministry and the CENI. As to why the committee was needed,
he said that there are several bodies working on elections
within the ministry, but they only meet once a month. The
minister said that he set up the new committee, which is

CONAKRY 00000054 002 OF 002


supposed to meet at least three times a week, in order to
facilitate frequent and effective collaboration.



--------------------------


NO COMMENT ON CONTROVERSIAL PREFECT


--------------------------





7. (SBU) When Charge asked whether the new prefect of Kindia
had taken office (ref B), Keita said that he has been there
for some time now. He did not offer further commentary.



--------------------------


THE CHANTAL COLLE AFFAIR


--------------------------





8. (C) In response to a question about the Chantal Colle
affair (ref C), Keita said that there have been absolutely no
repercussions. He explained that Colle had broken the law by
defaming the prime minister. According to the minister, when
Colle was brought before the court, she lied even though
there was a recording of the controversial press conference,
which the ministry kept as evidence. Keita said that Colle
would have normally been sent to jail, but that he decided to
deport her because she was a woman and he did not want to
imprison her. He added that Colle had let her Guinean
passport expire while her French passport was still current,
indicating that she preferred her French citizenship, so he
sent her back to France. &She was here to destabilize the
country and that is why she held that press conference,8 he
said. When the Charge asked if the First Lady was involved,
Keita shrugged his shoulders and said &I don,t know.8



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





9. (C) Keita was not particularly forthcoming on the
political questions and some of his responses suggest that he
was intentionally disingenuous. His conviction that the
population will accept fuel and other price increases because
they understand world markets and the country's economic
situation conflicts with what most other contacts have told
embassy officials. He also was not especially convincing
when he said he did not know if the First Lady was involved
in the Chantal Cole case. Keita,s justification for
Colle,s deportation raises many questions with respect to
rights of expression, justice, etc.



10. (C) With respect to the deportation issue, the minister
does not appear to be distinguishing between deportation and
extradition since extradition is usually done under some kind
of convention while deportation is relatively
straightforward. Charge did not push the issue since he and
RSO had already met earlier in the week with a contact at the
ministry of foreign affairs, who agreed to work with us to
resolve the issue. END COMMENT.
BROKENSHIRE