Viewing cable 08CONAKRY209

08CONAKRY2092008-05-21 11:07:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Conakry
DE RUEHRY #0209/01 1421107 
O 211107Z MAY 08 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CONAKRY 000209 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/21/2018 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY. President Conte fired Guinean Prime 
Minister Lansana Kouyate on May 20 and replaced him with a 
cabinet member from a previous government, Dr. Ahmed Tidiane 
Souare. Public support for Kouyate has been steadily waning 
and the public reaction has been relatively quiet, although 
there have been a few instances of mild public disturbances. 
For many contacts, the key questions revolve around how 
Souare will set up his government, how his cabinet will be 
structured, and how his agenda takes shape. The PM's 
dismissal suggests that further cabinet changes are on the 
¶2. (U) Around 8:00 PM on May 20, the government-owned 
national news agency Radio Television Guinean announced that 
President Conte had fired Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate and 
replaced him with Ahmed Tidiane Souare, who had served in 
previous governments first as the minister of mines and later 
as the minister of higher education. Rumors of the PM's 
dismissal have been circulating for months. The public has 
been increasingly disappointed with Kouyate's failure to 
deliver "change," and some civil society leaders have been 
quietly advocating for his dismissal. 
¶3. (C) Although the local press has been reporting that the 
trade unions may be planning a labor strike to protest the 
appointment, Embassy contacts indicate otherwise. Union 
Leader Serah Rabiatou Diallo told Pol LES that the decision 
is not a surprise. She did not have any immediate objections 
to Souare as the new PM, but said that much of the public 
reaction will depend on how Souare does his job, and how he 
structures his cabinet. Another union representative told 
Pol LES that he is "extremely disappointed in Kouyate...he 
should hang...183 people were killed for nothing." Union 
leader Ibrahima Fofana is currently out of town. 
¶4. (C) Dr. Dansa Kourouma, a prominent youth leader in 
Conakry, told Pol LES that he has been receiving many 
telephone calls from youth colleagues, all of them calling 
for "change." According to Kourouma, Souare is in a position 
to use his personal relationship with Conte to manipulate the 
political situation for the better. He told Pol LES that "if 
Souare can use...Conte to change the situation in Guinea, the 
youth will support him...if not, Souare will find himself 
dealing with strikes worse than those of 2007." Souare said 
that various youth organizations plan to hold a meeting on 
May 21 in order to analyze the situation and publish a joint 
declaration, in which they plan to invite Souare to hold 
consultations with them before appointing his cabinet. 
Kourouma told Pol LES that youth are particularly concerned 
about what the cabinet may look like, especially since he had 
heard that many former members of government were at Souare's 
house last night. 
¶5. (C) Business contacts expressed similar sentiments with 
respect to the decision. Sherif Abdallah, who is president 
of a local business association claiming more than 15,000 
members, told Econ LES that the decision to fire Kouyate 
should have been implemented months ago. Benogo Conde, 
Deputy Secretary of the Patronat (the one controlled by 
Youssouf Diallo, not Mamadou Syllah) told Econ LES that his 
reaction to Kouyate's dismissal is mixed. He said that 
Kouyate has failed to do his job, but questioned whether the 
president or the PM should be held accountable, since there 
were significant political constraints at work. According to 
Conde, the PM's dismissal itself does not violate the 2007 
tripartite agreement. He argued, however, that appointing 
Souare to the position does violate the agreement because it 
stipulates that anyone having served in Conte's 
administration within the last ten years cannot be appointed 
prime minister. Conde said that the Patronat planned to meet 
later on May 21 to discuss the situation. 
¶6. (U) There was some evidence of rock throwing and minor 
civil disturbances last night, but the public response in the 
capital has been relatively quiet. There are fewer cars than 
normal on the streets, but shops and markets are open for 
business, and people appear to be going about business as 
usual. Some of the international schools closed, but most 
students were seen heading to their classes this morning. 
¶7. (SBU) Late morning reports indicate that there has been 
some tire burning in Kankan, Guinea's second largest city, 
and that all the government offices are closed. The Director 
of the American Reading Room in Kankan reports that large 
groups of teenagers have been marching through Kankan and 
throwing rocks at buildings. He reports that one of the 
windows at the American Reading Room was broken. 
¶8. (U) However, other urban centers in the interior appear 
to be relatively quiet. There is some internet reporting 
indicating minor peaceful protests last night in N'Zerekore, 
Kissidougou, Gueckedou, Macenta, and Kankan, but Embassy 
contacts report little activity. The DATT, who is in Kankan, 
reported a small peaceful gathering of people earlier this 
morning while the Econoff, who is in Labe, reported no 
activity at all. 
¶9. (C) Ambassador Carter met with Finance Minister Ousmane 
Dore on May 21 to discuss recent developments. Dore said 
that he had been asked months ago to consider accepting the 
PM job, but that he had declined. He told the Ambassador 
that members of the president's entourage had approached him 
again just two weeks ago, pressuring him to take the job, 
saying that the president wanted to replace Kouyate, but was 
concerned about the public's reaction. Dore declined again. 
According to Dore, he was approached by Mamadou Syllah, Sam 
Soumah, an intermediary from Idrissa Thiam, and businessman 
Alpha Oumar Diallo. Dore said that he knew the decision was 
coming, especially since Conte called him about it when Dore 
was recently in Maputo, but did not expect it this quickly. 
¶10. (C) Dore said that Souare is not a bad choice for PM. 
He added that he had seen the list of other candidates and 
that Souare is the best of the bunch. According to Dore, who 
knows Souare well since Souare was a dean at Dore's 
university when Dore was head of the student union, Souare is 
a technocrat who understands budgets and financing because of 
his experience at the Ministry of Finance. 
¶11. (C) For Dore, the replacement is an improvement. He 
told the Ambassador that things were getting "very bad" with 
Kouyate towards the end, noting that Kouyate was 
circumventing Dore by going directly to the Secretary General 
of the Ministry of Finance. According to Dore, Kouyate kept 
making promises he could not keep because the money was not 
there. He also told the Ambassador that Kouyate was 
convinced that Dore was trying to take his job, and that 
Souare's appointment is a good thing because at least it 
proves that Dore was not maneuvering behind Kouyate's back. 
¶12. (C) Regarding the outlook for the new PM, Dore said that 
he has seen a plan to enlarge the government, to include 28 
separate ministries and two secretary general positions. He 
told the Ambassador that "some cabinet colleagues will be 
moving on." The Ambassador said that he wants to try and 
meet with the new PM as soon as possible in order to 
emphasize U.S. priorities. He told Dore that the U.S. will 
continue to focus on actions and progress, not the 
personality in office. 
¶13. (U) As usual, a multitude of rumors are circulating in 
the local press. There is some discussion of the possibility 
of a court trial against Kouyate for misuse of public funds. 
Others are questioning whether the decree is legitimate and 
actually comes from the president. There are several reports 
of possible demonstrations or planned labor strikes. 
Information from contacts negates many of these claims. 
¶14. (U) An interview with Dr. Souare was being broadcast 
over the radio early this morning wherein Souare said "I am 
not a hero, but a combatant in the service of Guinea." When 
asked about his objectives and a possible plan of action, 
Souare spoke of transparency, cooperation, and change. He 
later said "I wish that everyone will bring change to Guinea 
in a spirit of calm and serenity." In regards to a possible 
cabinet reshuffle, Souare essentially sidestepped the 
question, saying that he had not yet thought about it. When 
the question came up again later in the interview, Souare 
said that he must work with the president to find acceptable 
candidates, which is why he could not respond to the question. 
¶15. (SBU) Dr. Souare (57) was appointed as the Minister of 
Mines and Geology in 2005 by then Prime Minister Cellou 
Diallo, who is believed to be a very close friend. According 
to archived Embassy bio notes, Dr. Souare is considered a 
highly capable technocrat. He was actively involved in 
successful tripartite negotiations between the Government of 
Guinea, ALCOA, and Global Alumina for bauxite mining 
concessions. He received high marks from both American 
companies for his hard work and fairness during these 
negotiations. He also negotiated and signed the 
controversial offshore concession with Hyperdynamics, another 
U.S. company. 
¶16. (SBU) Although he was seen as former PM Diallo's ally, 
Souare appeared to distance himself from Cellou Diallo in the 
months before Diallo was removed from office. After Diallo's 
dismissal, Souare was appointed as the Minister of Higher 
Education and Scientific Research, as part of the cabinet 
reshuffle that appointed Fode Bangoura as the Minister of 
State for Presidential Affairs (and de facto prime minister). 
¶17. (SBU) Dr. Souare has a degree in geological engineering 
from the University of Conakry as well as a doctorate in 
metallurgical engineering from a Moroccan university. He 
lived in Morocco for nearly ten years before returning to 
Guinea in 1994. He worked as the Chief of Cabinet in the 
Ministry of Finance and then as the Inspector General. Dr. 
Souare is a Peuhl from Mali, which is located north of Labe, 
in Middle Guinea. Dr. Souare is the cousin of the current 
Minister of Education, Ousmane Souare. 
¶18. (C) Support for Kouyate has been steadily waning over 
the last several months and it is unlikely that his dismissal 
will spark any widespread popular backlash. The key question 
for many Guineans is how the new prime minister will take on 
his role, and who he will select to fill his cabinet. 
Contacts, including the French, British, and Lebanese 
Ambassadors, share the belief that Kouyate's dismissal is 
unlikely to result in violence. Dr. Souare may be a solid 
choice since he is a technocrat and not overly political, and 
therefore may be able to advance the reform agenda. However, 
he is also close to the old regime and it is unclear where 
his allegiance lies, or what his ambitions might be. 
Kouyate's dismissal is likely the first of many cabinet 
changes, and the population will be watching the subsequent 
appointments, and the new PM, very closely. END COMMENT.