Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pity Guinea

Guinea doesn't make the news typically. However, it is quite simply an example of a country where the state is little more than an organised gang of thieves, using its monopoly on legitimised violence, to enrich itself and to pillage and oppress the citizens.

A military coup late last year, following the death of Lansana Conte (himself President since 1984 following a military coup, and then several highly questionable elections) meant it is today a military led regime, that has pledged elections within 2 years. The coup leader and effective head of state, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has railed against corruption in the meantime.

However, as protestors filled the streets of the capital, Conakry, angry at Camara's announcement he wishes to stand in elections next year, the BBC reports soldiers have opened fire and massacred them. Reports range from 87 to 187 killed. Apparently soldiers have simply been let loose, and without control have assaulted people in the street and in their homes, with reports of looting and rape of women. Captain Camara has condemned the attacks, but claimed it was difficult to control the soldiers.

However, the Guinean army has a record of suppressing protests, having done so in 2007 with a general strike, and crackdown on the media. Guinea itself having suffered from insurgency of rebels from Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Guinea has 25% of the world's known deposits of bauxite, but with ample potential for other minerals and agriculture. Yet it is beset with decades of mismanagement, corruption and dictatorship. It is, for most, just another poster child of the failure of African leaders to provide the conditions for economic and social stability and growth, operating more as a kleptocracy than a government that defends the rights of its citizens and their property.

Meanwhile, a country with per capita GDP of only US$1002 per annum (PPP) has a 15,000 strong army destroying wealth and pillaging from the citizenry. Given Papua New Guinea has more than double that GDP per capita, as does Cambodia, it tells you just what a sorry state Guinea is in.

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