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A Bad Example

Oct 28, 2009, 5:06 PM

It looks as though everything coming out of Guinea Conakry nowadays is grim and nauseating. Long before the death of Lansana Conte, Guinea Conakry had been plagued by credibility crisis. But it is even worse now with the ascension to power of the Musa Dadis Camara as the leader of the Guinean junta. Admittedly, he came to power in a bloodless coup; a lot of Guineans welcomed his coming, but they soon got disillusioned with his vacillation over his mercurial presidential ambition, now he wants to run for president, now he does not want any more.

Things got out of hand on 28 September when the Presidential Guard opened fire on civilians at a political rally held inside a stadium. "Security forces surrounded and blockaded the stadium, then stormed in and fired at protesters in cold blood until they ran out of bullets." This is the finding of the Human Rights Watch. In addition, women were gang-raped in full sight of the commanders. As a result, Human Right Watch has concluded that the September 28 bloodbath (the death toll was put at over 500) as a premeditated action. 

After the horrors of Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast we had assumed that never again would African leaders allow such a catastrophe to happen on the continent. If as it claimed that many of the killers uttered ethnically biased comments, then there could be reprisal attacks, either now or in the future. The seed of discord has already been sown. We have the Rwanda experience to guide us. Lamentably, Guinea Conakry seems not to have learnt anything at all from the painful experiences of its neighbours. And that is too bad, even shameful.

It is because of the likes of Capt Musa Dadis Camara that Africa, despite its immense potential for greatness, has been reduced to a laughingstock around the world. That is why The Economist had the effrontery to dismiss Africa as "the hopeless continent." While leaders in other parts of the world are preoccupied with progressive development agendas for their people, here in Africa we have leaders who are simply anti-progress, taking butchery as a form of governance.

The measures taken by the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the European Union so far are laudable. But they should formulate stiffer measures to make Dadis Camara see sense and steer Guinea Conakry off the path of anarchy, chaos and violence. He is showing a bad example at a time when the rest of the continent craves peace, progress and prosperity.

When will the world know that peace and propagation are the two most delightful things in it?

Horace Walpole (1717-1797)