The Latest Legislative Election Delay in Guinea: An Opportunity to Obtain Consensus, not Prolong Indefinite Executive Rule
President Alpha Condé declared yesterday that elections for Guinea’s National Assembly would not be held on July 8 as previously announced, and instead would be postponed indefinitely. This news begs serious reflection regarding the stalled democratic transition facing Guinea: now over one and a half years since President Condé’s historic election – and ten years since the last parliamentary elections in the country –, Guinea still has no elected body representing the people. As a result, the country is effectively stuck in executive rule.
President Conde cited “technical reasons” for the delay, but the opposition political parties in Guinea have hotly contested these poll preparations under current conditions for several different reasons. While technical complications regarding the digital voting card systems are real and must be resolved, the greater challenge may be the political one. The National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) desperately needs true neutrality both at its head and in its technical corps, and both the CENI and the presidency need to finally make good on promises (renewed yesterday) to sincerely engage with the opposition in frank dialogue to resolve this problem and ensure that campaigning and voting take place on an equal playing field open to all.
On the one hand, we could celebrate the latest legislative election delay as a blank slate, a new opportunity to engage with the civil society, the opposition parties and the international community, as the president apparently began to do with new vigor this week. The decision to listen to concerns – even if under the guise of purely technical reasons – represents an important political opening to reformulate the approach to engagement over the vote, and seek consensus on the way forward. But the questions remain: will President Condé work openly and efficiently with civil society and the opposition, or continue to make decisions in isolation? And will the opposition put aside unnecessary political jockeying in the name of the common good: the election of a representative body of men and women whose duty is to serve the Guinean people?
The President must confirm a new date at least 70 days before the vote is to be held. Before this happens, the presidency, electoral commission and opposition parties must agree on the people and modalities needed to make the elections free and fair. Alliance Guinea feels that the President, CENI and political parties alike only will only increases their authority and credibility by swiftly moving to hold these elections as soon as possible. With a body of citizens’ representatives firmly established, Guinea can get on with the business of rebuilding the country. President Condé: seek consensus, and hold this vote. Guinea will not flourish under indefinite executive rule.