Viewing cable 08CONAKRY652
Title: ETHNIC POLITICS IN GUINEA - YOUTH OF COASTAL GUINEA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08CONAKRY6522008-10-30 16:27:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Conakry
VZCZCXRO9293
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #0652/01 3041627
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301627Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3087
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CONAKRY 000652 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SOCI PGOV PREL ASEC GV
SUBJECT: ETHNIC POLITICS IN GUINEA - YOUTH OF COASTAL GUINEA 
 
REF: A. CONAKRY 0600 
     ¶B. CONAKRY 0602 
     ¶C. CONAKRY 0607 
     ¶D. CONAKRY 0631 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY.  This cable is the fifth in a series of 
reports exploring the role of ethnicity in Guinean politics 
(reftels).  Despite repeatedly affirming their neutrality and 
broad-based ethnic support, the youths of "Bas-Cote" were 
clearly pro-Conte and pro-Soussou.  During a meeting with 
Poloff, they emphasized that the population is generally 
happy under President Conte and any indications to the 
contrary are the result of buy-offs from various political 
players looking to fulfill personal ambitions.  The youth 
leaders agreed that Guinea has an ethnic problem and implied 
that a Soussou leader is the only solution acceptable to all 
groups.  They expressed support for a constitutional 
transition and claimed that the ruling Party for Unity and 
Progress will win a clear majority if legislative elections 
take place.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2.  (SBU) Poloff met with Ibrahima Souare, President of an 
organization called "Coordination of the Youths of Bas-Cote 
(Lower Coast)" on October 15.  One of the four regional 
organizations under the larger umbrella of the Council of 
Elders, the "Bas-Cote" is seen as an ethnic association 
comprised primarily of Soussous.  Souare was accompanied by 
two members of the organization's executive bureau. 
 
¶3.  (SBU) Souare defined Bas-Cote as a regional organization 
representing all ethnic groups in Guinea since members of all 
ethnic groups live in Lower Guinea.  "We want Guinea to be 
peaceful and that is why we make sure everyone is 
represented," he said.  Souare told Poloff that he and others 
had officially created the youth arm of the Bas-Cote 
organization in the aftermath of the 2007 labor strikes and 
civil unrest.  He claimed to have more than 6000 registered 
members with an office in every neighborhood district in 
Conakry.  Souare said that Bas-Cote meets once a week to 
discuss a wide range of current issues, including politics, 
and that the meetings routinely attract more than 700 
participants. 
 
---------------------- 
THE LEADERSHIP PROBLEM 
---------------------- 
 
¶4.  (SBU) According to the Bas-Cote youth leaders, Guinea's 
biggest problem is leadership.  Souare said that everyone 
wants power, which is encouraging individuals to align 
themselves according to their fQ@Qi8-QpH!qQQ'k= 
identities, and generational beliefs.  For Souare, these 
divisions date back to practices under Sekou Toure's regime, 
which were later continued under President Conte.  He said 
that political leaders actively used ethnicity to play 
different groups off of each other, ignoring the specific 
concerns of individual groups.  "We need to nationally 
reconcile these issues," Souare said. 
 
---------------------- 
CONTE IS NOT THE ISSUE 
---------------------- 
 
¶5.  (SBU) Although he initially mentioned President Conte, he 
later emphasized that Conte is not the problem, but that 
opposition political leaders continue to be the most 
divisive, using ethnicity to advance individual interests. 
"The opposition is not here to help us and we cannot allow 
them to manipulate the youths," Souare said.  When discussing 
the 2007 strikes, Souare said that opposition leaders 
intentionally tried to destabilize the political situation in 
order to overthrow President Conte.  "They were responsible 
for the military's killing of youths," he added. 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Souare also mentioned former Prime Minister Lansana 
wQQ,o President Conte, 
Souare proudly claimed that he went directly to Conte and 
demanded that he fire Kouyate immediately.  According to 
Souare, Kouyate was fired a few days later. 
 
¶7.  (SBU) One of Souare's colleagues spoke up and agreed that 
President Conte's entourage is the problem, not Conte 
himself.  "Most people are content," she said, "and if they 
say otherwise it is because they are being manipulated by a 
political actor."  Referring to Conte's declining health, she 
noted that "only God can decide when it is time for him to 
go."  Her colleagues chimed in and said that Guinea would not 
face any significant political crisis if Conte should die 
 
CONAKRY 00000652  002 OF 002 
 
 
because the country has a solid constitutional process in 
place.  "His illness is irrelevant," Souare noted, adding 
"the law is clear; the president of the National Assembly is 
Conte's constitutional successor and no one should have a 
problem with that since he is a Guinean elected to serve in 
that office." 
 
--------------------- 
ETHNIC BALANCE IS KEY 
--------------------- 
 
¶8.  (SBU) When asked if Guinea has an ethnic problem, Souare 
emphatically answered "yes, absolutely."  He said that the 
main tensions are between the two larger groups, the Peuhls 
and the Malinkes.  "It is going to be very difficult for any 
other ethnic group to govern this country if the Soussous are 
not supporting the candidate," he said.  Souare pointed to 
Kouyate's decision making as an example of how ethnic 
politics undermined the consensus government from the 
beginning.  Souare noted that Kouyate's appointments were not 
ethnically balanced, which created discord among the various 
ethnic groups, ultimately leading to his demise. 
 
¶9.  (SBU) Turning to Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare, the 
youth leader said that "everything is balanced; Souare is a 
good prime minister."  He added that President Conte 
consulted widely before appointing Souare and his cabinet in 
order to avoid ethnic tensions.  Referring to rumors that 
Conte may soon replace PM Souare, the youth leader said "the 
president told me personally that he would not do anything 
without talking to me first." 
 
------------------------------- 
RULING PARTY WILL WIN ELECTIONS 
------------------------------- 
 
¶10.  (SBU) Poloff asked about the country's postponed 
legislative elections and whether any one political party 
will be able to win a clear majority.  Souare said that the 
ruling Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) is the biggest and 
most influential party, with strong representation throughout 
the country.  He added that the PUP encompasses all ethnic 
groups.  "If we have elections, there is no question that the 
PUP will win," he said. 
 
-------------------- 
MINIMAL COORDINATION 
-------------------- 
 
¶11.  (SBU) When asked about coordination with the other 
ethnic youth associations, Souare said that they occasionally 
meet together to discuss mutual interests such as the recent 
national celebration of 50 years of independence.  However, 
he later told Poloff "Bas-Cote is the only group that is well 
organized." 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶12.  (SBU) Like other youth groups, leaders of Bas-Cote 
claimed absolute neutrality.  However, they were obviously 
pro-Conte and pro-Soussou.  Although he did not state it 
specifically, Souare seemed to imply that a Soussou would be 
the only acceptable candidate for president since the 
Malinkes would not support a Peuhl president, and vice versa. 
 In many ways, the discussion with Souare echoed similar 
discussions with PUP party leaders, First Lady Henriette 
Conte, and some high-level government officials, all of whom 
are staunch Conte supporters.  Souare seemed to see himself 
as a prominent player with close ties to the ruling elite, 
and believed that whatever happens, the Soussous will 
continue to be the most powerful group in Guinea.  When 
Poloff pointed out that numerous Embassy contacts routinely 
cite widespread popular dissatisfaction with the current 
government, Souare insisted that Guineans are happy with 
President Conte and do not say otherwise until someone pays 
them to do so.  END COMMENT. 
RASPOLIC