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The Shape of Things to Come

Sep 30, 2009, 6:22 AM

The ongoing bloodbath in Guinea Conakry is hardly a surprise to keen watchers of politics of that country since the junta came to power last year. The Capt Moussa Dadis Camara-led junta seized power in a bloodless coup after the death of Lansana Conte who had ruled the country for more than two decades. Since military governments are now anathema in the sub region, Capt Camara announced a transition period that will end in January 2010. But he has been ambivalent about his own political future. Now he wants to run for president, now he does not want any more. In our editorial of 19th August 2009 "The Rumbling from Guinea Conakry", we urged the junta leader to nail his colour to the mast in order to ensure a level playing field in the presidential election. In concluding the editorial, we advised thus: "Whatever happens, the Guinean political class should spare the continent the shame of a disputed or violent election."
The shame that we feared has happened much sooner than we had anticipated. The junta outraged the conscience of the world on Monday when troops in Guinea opened fire on an opposition rally, killing at least 58 people. But the death toll has been on the increase since then, with some sources claiming as many as 157 casualties. These were unarmed demonstrators who simply brandished placards calling on the army to stay out of politics. "This is only the beginning of demonstrations and counter demonstrations we can expect in the next few months," a leading voice on Guinean matters Gilles Yabi told the BBC.
Seen in this light, it can be safely assumed that the rot has set in Guinea Conakry. In the face of the probable imminent chaos and violence, the junta might have justification to extend the transitional phase and hang on a little longer. It therefore means that the political future of the country is still misty. The question is no longer whether Capt Camara wants to transform himself into a civilian leader, following in the footsteps of other West African leaders. He wants to 'confiscate' power by riding rough shod over the opposition. 
It is up to the international community to tell him that enough is enough. He has already gone too far by massacring innocent citizens whose only crime was standing up for transparency in governance. One way or another, he should be made to understand we no longer live in a world of brute force. Importantly, he must not be allowed to get away with this monstrosity; otherwise, others who think like him will start butchering their citizens for no just cause.

"We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell."
Oscar Wilde