The WikiLeaks documents have revealed fascinating details about the military junta in Guinea prior to the recent elections and the relationship between former Head of Sate Moussa Dadis Camara and interim leader Sekouba Konate. The documents also shed some light about the pivotal role the U.S. administration played in the ousting of Camara and installing Sekouba Konate as Interim leader. Also highlighted was the role France, Morocco and Burkina Faso played in the ensuing political drama that was the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on Dadis Camara by a renegade soldier.
According to the WikiLeaks documents, following a series of discussions in Rabat on January 5, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson signalled explicit USG support to Guinean Defence Minister Sekouba Konate in his bid to lead the country’s transition to civilian rule. A/S Carson, along with French Presidential Advisor for African Affairs Andre Parant and Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, signed a declaration indicating their commitment to the transition process based on the plan proposed by ECOWAS facilitator Blaise Compaore, President of Burkina Faso. Under the declaration, wounded junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who remains hospitalized in Rabat, would be prohibited from returning to Conakry as the signatories pursue his resettlement to a third country. Konate departed Rabat after meeting with A/S Carson and was expected to make a public pronouncement in the near future in Guinea announcing his intention to lead the transition to civilian
King Mohammed VI of Morocco called Gabonese President Ali Bongo to request that Gabon host Dadis Camara; according to the Moroccan MFA, Bongo declined. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner planned to ask Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso if the Republic of the Congo would host Dadis, and the GOM requested that we reinforce that message. Finally, the GOM indicated that it would be willing to participate in an international contact group meeting on Guinea in Addis Ababa on January 26 and would mobilize Arab support — if an organization other than the African Union (AU) convened the meeting. End Summary.
Prior to meeting with Konate, A/S Carson met on January 5 with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri and Moroccan Director General for Studies and Documentation (external intelligence service chief) Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, the de facto national security advisor. Also in attendance were Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Multilateral Affairs and Chief of Staff Ambassador Nasser Bourita, Ambassador, DCM, and D/PolCouns. French Presidential Advisor for African Affairs Andre Parant had met with the Moroccans and with Konate on January 4, and A/S Carson subsequently briefed French Ambassador Bruno Joubert.
Emphasizing Morocco,s goal of finding a way to stabilize the situation in Conakry, Fassi Fihri reported that in the past few days Konate had asserted his readiness to begin the political transition in Guinea. Konate had told the Moroccans that he would not name a Prime Minister but would ask Guinean civil society, including the political parties and the labor unions, to identify a leader until elections could be held. Fassi Fihri added that Konate recognized the inseparability of military and political affairs and the need to disarm the militias and restructure Guinean armed forces. Konate needed, however, the commitment of support from Washington, Paris, and Rabat, evidenced by signature of the declaration, to move forward, Fassi Fihri said. Fassi Fihri went on to explain that Konate saw the restructuring of the military as a three-to-five year process before the country could claim to have a professional army. Konate wished that violence and bloodshed such as seen in Guinea and elsewhere on the continent would “never happen again,” and he recognized the need for those responsible, from Dadis to the lowest ranking accomplice, to be brought to justice either through Guinean courts or, if not credible, through an international tribunal, Fassi Fihri reported. As for the document expressing French, U.S. and Moroccan support for Konate, French Presidential Advisor for African Affairs Andre Parant had already signed it. Fassi Fihri said Konate would “keep it in his pocket” but needed the written assurance of support.
A/S Carson and the Ambassador expressed appreciation for the GOM’s leadership on the issue and in the region, noting the urgent need to set Guinea on the path to stability and civilian rule. While recognizing the importance of military restructuring, A/S Carson stressed the need to address Guinea’s economic situation as well by working to develop a strategy for the country’s economic revitalization. Specifically, A/S Carson suggested that the United States could seek the establishment of an international contact group that would encourage economic assistance to Guinea, engaging the World Bank and the IMF as well. He noted too that U.S. Africa Command could visit Guinea to assess the security sector and make recommendations on security sector reform. After more than one hour, Guinean Minister of National Defence Sekouba Konate, who had been waiting nearby, joined the meeting. A/S Carson thanked him for sharing concerns about the future of Guinea and applauded his efforts to resolve the situation in the country. He stated that Guinea is at a crossroads and that Konate’s leadership was of crucial importance and could help ensure the country moved along the road to stability and progress. A/S Carson stressed that it was important for the transition to begin and to lead in the shortest possible time to new elections, adding that it was similarly important that Dadis not return and participate in elections. Likewise, it would be beneficial for Konate to facilitate the presence in Guinea of a small ECOWAS monitoring group consisting of 30 to 40 diplomats and unarmed military personnel, which would lend credibility to the transition process. A/S Carson noted there was much international goodwill toward Guinea, and if the country chose the path toward stability, economic development, and civilian government, there would be help along the way.
Konate expressed his appreciation for A/S Carson’s message and repeated the importance of having the signed document verifying support for his efforts. He repeatedly expressed concern for his own security and for the security of his country, but stated his readiness to return to Conakry and put the Ouagadougou Accords in place. It was important to begin, he said, adding that the violent events of September 28 could be repeated if efforts were not made to prevent violence. Konate stated explicitly that he would engage the Forces Vives and others in support of the transition and that he would not be a candidate in any future elections. Konate also stated that he supported a civilian government of national unity and suggested that opposition leader Jean Marie Dore serve as Prime Minister until elections were held but asserted in this regard that he would accept the decision of the opposition. Konate said the military would agree to his role in leading the transition, and he agreed it would be important to show that the army was not engaged in politics. Claude Pivi (Dadis’s half-brother) and others closely affiliated with Dadis Camara and the junta would similarly be excluded from participating in the transition. Pivi was involved in the September 28 massacre, Konate said, and should go to court.
Carson did not meet with Dadis Camara, but discussed his health with the Moroccans outside of Konate,s presence. Fassi Fihri told A/S Carson that he has visited Dadis four times since he was allowed into the country for medical care. According to the FM, Dadis has regained “80 percent” of his faculties, but has difficulty putting more than five words together without 30-second pauses before the next phrase or sentence. Fassi Fihri,s conversations with Dadis had focused mainly on health issues, the FM said, with Fassi Fihri urging him to fully recover before thinking about politics and his future. Dadis has, however, expressed the desire to leave, Fassi Fihri said, and has begun to wonder why he has not been discharged from the hospital. Fassi Fihri and Mansouri suggested that once Konate made his public pronouncement, Dadis would know he was finished politically and it would be difficult for him to return to Guinea. Concerted engagement by Konate with political forces inside Guinea, and by the U.S. and France with external forces such as ECOWAS and President Blaise Compaore, to enlist support for Konate and his leadership though a transitional period and their positive reaction to a pronouncement would convince Dadis to go to a third country, Fassi Fihri said. Konate was explicit that Dadis not be allowed to return to Guinea and participate in the transition. A/S Carson outlined U.S. efforts to identify a country to house Dadis Camara for the long term, noting that Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Libya have been considered. Fassi Fihri suggested that The Gambia or the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) might be other options.
After A/S Carson relayed to ECOWAS facilitator Blaise Compaore the contents of the meetings, Compaore expressed his gratitude for the efforts and noted that this could help break the impasse in Guinea. However, he noted that Pivi seemed to be running the show in Guinea and asked rhetorically if Konate would be able to bring the factions together or whether a Konate pronouncement would bring greater instability. The real issue for Compaore was whether Konate would be able to command the support of the military. Konate’s stated intention was to move the country along the path to economic progress and civilian rule. Konate departed Rabat for Conakry on January 5. On January 7, King Mohammed VI called Gabonese President Ali Bongo to request that Gabon host Dadis Camara; according to Bourita, Bongo declined. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner planned to ask Congolese President. Denis Sassou-Nguesso if the Republic of the Congo would host Dadis, and the GOM requested that we reinforce that message. Bourita told DCM that Morocco it would be willing to participate in an international contact group meeting on Guinea in Addis Ababa on January 26 and would mobilize Arab support — if an organization other than the African Union (AU) convened the meeting. Having the AU convene is unacceptable to Morocco because Morocco is not a member.
Ambassador Carson,s trip was very productive and clearly led to forward movement. Konate, who spoke very softly, repeated several times that he was concerned about his personal security. For its part, the GOM is anxious to 1) get Dadis Camara out of Morocco and 2) continue to support the transition and reconstruction processes in Guinea.
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