Alpha Condé

Alpha Condé

Alpha Condé  is a Guinean politician who has been President of Guinea since December 2010. He spent decades in opposition to a succession of regimes in Guinea, unsuccessfully running against President Lansana Conté in the 1993 and 1998 presidential elections and leading the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), an opposition party. Standing again in the 2010 presidential election, Condé was elected as President of Guinea in a second round of voting. When he took office that December, he became the first freely elected president in the country’s history. Condé was reelected in 2015 with almost 58 percent of the vote.

Upon his election in 2010, Conde claimed he would strengthen Guinea as a democracy and fight corruption in his country, but he and his son have since been implicated in a number of corruption scandals mostly related to the mining industry, and suspected for election rigging.

On 30 January 2017, Condé succeeded Chad’s Idriss Deby as head of the African Union.

Alpha Condé
Alpha Condé 2014-10-09.jpg
 
President of Guinea
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 December 2010
Prime Minister Jean-Marie Doré
Mohamed Said Fofana
Mamady Youla
Preceded by Sékouba Konaté (Acting)
Chairperson of the African Union
Incumbent
Assumed office
30 January 2017
Preceded by Idriss Déby
Personal details
Born 4 March 1938 
Boké, Guinea
Political party Rally of the Guinean People
Spouse(s) Djene Kaba Condé
Alma mater Pantheon-Sorbonne University
Religion Islam

Background and personal life

Condé was born on 4 March 1938 in Boké in Lower Guinea. His parents were from Baro, a small town in Kouroussa Prefecture in the Kankan Region of Upper Guinea. Condé is married to Djene Kaba Condé. Condé has one son, Alpha Mohamed Condé.

Early life

Condé left for France at the age of 15. He was active in parallel within the National Union of Higher Education (SNESUP) and combined the functions of charge within the Association of Guinean students in France (AEGF), and within the Federation of Black African Students in France (FEANF), in which he was the Executive Coordinator of African National Groups (NG) from 1967 to 1975, overseeing the activities of the Directorate of FEANF.

Condé wrote a master’s thesis in Political Science entitled, Le P.D.G. et le peuple de Guinée in 1965.

Political career

Condé won 19.6 percent of the vote in Guinea’s first multiparty presidential election, held on 19 December 1993. Lansana Conté, who had been president since a bloodless 1984 coup d’etat, won that election with 51.7 percent of the vote. Condé’s supporters alleged fraud in this election after the Supreme Court nullified results in the Kankan and Siguiri prefectures, where Condé had received more than 90 percent of the vote. In the 1998 presidential election, Condé ran again and received 16.6 percent of the vote, placing third behind Conté (56.1 percent) and Mamadou Boye Bâ (24.6 percent). On 16 December, two days after the poll, Condé was arrested and charged with trying to leave the country illegally; he was also charged with attempting to recruit forces to destabilize the government.

Controversy during his detention focused on whether he could be represented by foreign as well as domestic lawyers, and whether defense lawyers were being given full access to him in jail. Condé’s trial, initially scheduled to begin in September 1999, did not begin until April 2000. Condé, along with 47 co-defendants, was charged with hiring mercenaries, planning to assassinate President Conté, and upsetting the state’s security. Defense lawyers began by calling for the judge to immediately release their clients, then quit, saying that under the circumstances they could not properly make a defense. The trial was thus delayed several times, during which time Condé refused to speak in court, and his co-defendants denied all of the charges. The trial finally continued in August, and in mid-September Condé was sentenced to jail for five years.

However, Condé was released in May 2001 when he was pardoned by President Conté, with the condition that he was prohibited from engaging in political activities. Following his release, he left Guinea for France, returning in July 2005. Upon his return, some reports indicated that he intended to organize the RPG for the municipal elections held in late 2005, but later stated his intention to boycott them.

Following Conté’s death and the 23 December 2008 military coup, Condé met with Moussa Dadis Camara, the President of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), on 27 December 2008. After the meeting, Condé said that the members of the CNDD junta were “patriots”. Later, however, he opposed the junta and was criticised by Camara.

Alpha Conde 

After he was elected, Condé seemingly attempted to improve the mining law in Guinea, in order to reduce corruption in the sector and increase the country’s benefit. However, as revealed in 2016 Samuel Mebiame, who had been involved in bribing high level government officials in return for mining rights in the country, was also involved in rewriting the mining law in a manner that benefited the companies with which he was working.

According to various documents that were leaked to the international NGO Global Witness, mining company Sable Mining was involved in helping Conde win the 2010 election in return for mining rights in the country. Global Witness reported that Sable Supported Conde’s election campaign, organized logistics and strategic meetings, offered to loan him a helicopter, and paid bribe money to his son, Alpha Mohammed Conde, in order to secure mining permits in a number of areas including Mount Nimba. In an email sent from Alpha Mohammed Conde to Sable in August 2010 he said that backing his father’s campaign “will make my dad all the more comfortable to support our business partnerships”.  

Assassination attempt

On 19 July 2011, the presidential residence was shelled, resulting in the death of a presidential guard and the injuries of two others; Condé, however, survived the assassination attempt. A former army chief and a member of the presidential guard were arrested hours after the two attacks on his house. The President later spoke to the country saying that “My house was attacked last night, but I congratulate the presidential guard who fought heroically from 3:10 until 5:00 before backup arrived.” He also added that his plans for reform would not fail.

Three days later at least 38 soldiers were arrested for the assassination attempt. A government official said that many of those arrested had ties to the country’s previous military rulers.

The United Nations reacted by saying that there was a greater need for military reforms in Guinea. The UN Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, said that the assault showed “weaknesses remain in Guinea’s defence and security systems [and] reinforces the UN’s determination to support the country’s military reforms. I saw the damage…[the attack] clearly intended to kill the president.”

2013 pre-election violence

Condé received criticism during week-long protests and violence in late February and early March 2013, after opposition supporters took to the streets of Conakry to protest against his alleged attempts to rig the 2013 parliamentary election. The opposition coalition withdrew from the electoral process in mid-February, mainly due to Condé’s insistence on using a South African firm, Waymark Infotech, to draw up the registered voter list.

The ensuing violence resulted in at least nine deaths and hundreds injured, many from the alleged brutality of the security forces who reportedly used live fire to disperse some of the crowds.

2015 election

On 17 October 2015, Condé was re-elected to a second term with 57.85 percent of the vote, winning an outright majority in the first round of voting. The opposition claimed that the election was marred by fraud and mismanagement. Cellou Dalien Diallo, who received around 30% of the vote, rejected the results, claiming the vote had been rigged. He accused the government of intimidating voters, ballot stuffing, permitting minors to vote, and altering the electoral map. However, he did not make an official appeal.  Condé was sworn in for his second term on 14 December 2015.

2016 Corruption Allegations

In 2016, French news organization FRANCE 24 released audio recordings that appear to prove that mining company Rio Tinto paid Guinean government official, and close acquaintance of the president, François de Combret a sum of $10.5 million for mining rights in the Simandou mine. Despite President Conde’s claim that de Combret acted alone, the audio recordings prove that the president was aware of the payment and involved in the deal. Rio Tinto admitted to the payment in November 2016.

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