Since independence in 1958, Guinea has been politically ruled by the Mandingo, a close cousin of Susu, and the Fulani, who ruled over the other 24 ethnic groups
During Ecowas, sanctions against Guinea last week imposed and ordered the military junta to bring the country back under civil rule in six months, a civil society organization sees the overthrow of Alpha Conde in a coup as the solution to the deep-seated problem of ethnism.
Africa is rising, While condemning the military coup, also sees it as a hidden blessing and appeals to the junta to reverse the effects of Conde’s “undemocratic” actions over the past two years.
The organization said in a statement on Thursday that Conde’s attempt to impose himself on the Guinean people for a third term and his “high-handed” response to resistance “characteristic of dictatorships” in Africa
“We strongly condemn the coup and demand the immediate release of President Conde and call on the military junta to release all citizens, including activists and journalists who languished in prison during Conde’s rule.” Coups are abhorred. However, Guinea had other internal problems that led to the buildup of the coup.
Since independence from France in 1958, Guinea has been politically dominated by two ethnic groups – the man-left ( or Mandingo) and their close relatives, the Susu (French Sousou).
Together with the Fulani (or Peul) these three form the largest part of the estimated 12 million inhabitants of the country, which consists of a total of 24 ethnic Groups.
According to the available census data, the Fulanis make up the majority with about 40 percent of the population, followed by the Malinkes with 30 percent and Susu with 20 percent.
Nevertheless, the Fulanis feel comfortable , a largely nomadic and business-oriented group, politically sidelined. And their efforts to resist this status quo have put the country on a path of constant tension that often increases during election times.
Guinea was a very important element of the Mali or Mande Empire in the 13th century . to 15th century. which included the countries that are now Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania and Mali. At its height, Mande was the largest empire in West Africa and was once ruled by the famous Mansa Musa, who was considered one of the richest Africans of all time.
Today’s Guinea, on the other hand, is endowed with natural resources such as bauxite (the largest producer of the world) border on six countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, and are the source of both Niger and Senegal.
Some of West Africa’s greatest historical figures are from the country including the anti-French resistance emperor Samory Toure.
Guinea’s first president, Sekou Toure, a descendant of Samory, was one of Africa’s renowned independence leaders. He was distinguished above all by his idealistic speeches on Pan-Africanism, with a remarkable rhetoric that made him a strong opponent of western colonial interests in Africa.
Under Toure, Guinea served as a safe haven for many African independence heroes, especially the South African anti-apartheid heroine Miriam Makeba and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.
Coup after coup
After his removal by a military coup, Nkrumah was invited to Guinea by Toure, who explained and treated him as co-president until the Ghanaian’s death in 1972.
At home it was ironic that Sekou Toure could not unite the tribes. His rule was marked by the mass emigration of his compatriots – mainly Fulanis – who were often imprisoned and sometimes publicly hanged for their resistance to his authoritarian rule.
Guinea was the only Francophone West African country that campaigned for the full Independence decided from France after a referendum rejected the French proposal to remain a semi-autonomous member of French West Africa.
In retaliation, the French not only withdrew all aid, but also destroyed all, according to historical reports Infrastructure was built with French money.
Toure, a Malinke, branded the Fulanis as traitors for their alleged opposition to the struggle for independence. The subsequent mass migration of Fulanis is the reason that many of them remain scattered across the region, particularly in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
The Fulani Quest (ion)
Guinea is the only country in which Fulanis make up the majority of the population. They control the country’s economy through their dominance in the commercial sector. And they made sure that they use the associated power to their advantage.
Toure has been replaced by Lansana Conteh, a Susu who took power through a military coup. After Conteh’s death in 2008, Musa Dadis Camara took power. Dadis belongs to the Guerze minority tribe, which is mainly found in the largely neglected, epidemic-prone south-eastern forest region of the country.
Dadis is one of only two Guerze from a minority group that Guinea leads. The first was Louis Lansana Beavogui from the Toma ethnic group, also from the south, who was briefly interim president.
Beavogui only stayed in office for eight days after Toure’s death in 1984 when the military took power. Dadis stayed for about 11 months when he was replaced by General Saikouba Conateh, another Malinke, in an assassination attempt.
This apparent Malinke hegemony continued when Conde emerged victorious in the controversial 2010 elections and the Fulanis became increasingly disaffected. Conde won the candidacy as opposition leader at the time.
The Fulani’s six-decade longing for political control is often confronted by other ethnic groups with concerns that they might trust too much in their control of the economy Power.
As a result, ethnic violence is widespread in Guinea during the elections. According to the World Bank, more than 60 percent of the population is under 24 years of age; make their youth vulnerable to abuse.
The 2010 elections, rather than breaking with the country’s chaotic ethnic past, made them worse. It was the next time a Fulani came closest to winning the presidency.
In the first round, the leading Fulani candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, won 44 percent of the vote ahead of Conde, his closest Candidates, with only 18 percent.
In the second round, Conde won with 52 percent.
Given his past as an opposition activist, Conde’s election raised hopes for reforms and a healing of the ethnic divisions. According to his critics, not only did he fail to do that, but Conde took advantage of it, taking it to another level.
The majority of the victims of his eleven-year reign – dead or imprisoned – are Fulanis. The deep-rooted feeling for this becomes clear in the current discussions after the coup, with the Fulani in particular demanding his indictment.
The fact that the coup leader Lt-Col Mamady Doumbouya, the head of the special forces responsible for the coup cited, even a Malinke may be a cause for concern for the Fulani, but it is also a blessing in adversity. If he was of any other ethnic group, or worse, a Fulani, the political elites might have found a reason to lock them out.
The formation of a government
Doumbouya is itself a product of the ethnic policies that Conde allegedly supported. He set up the special unit of the Guinean army, which is supposed to suppress the opposition.
The junta leader Doumbouya is now in the eye of the storm: He has to bring Guinea back under civil rule, that is, he has to have elections organize.
Last week he started talks with groups from civil society. But it is unclear how long this will take and what role Doumbouya himself would like to play in the government. In neighboring Mali, the coup plotters decided to hold the interim presidency, during which they are expected to organize elections.
One thing on Doumbouya’s side is that public approval for his junta is still high, if one orientates oneself on the skirmish over the social affairs media in Guinea.
The junta’s ban on forming groups or public demonstrations in support of the military or any other group suggests that Doumbouya is not going to to stay in power for a long time.