Viewing cable 08CONAKRY777
Title: REVISITING THE ELEMENTS OF INSTABILITY - AN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08CONAKRY7772008-12-19 14:13:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Conakry
VZCZCXRO2102
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #0777/01 3541413
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 191413Z DEC 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3235
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CONAKRY 000777 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC GV
SUBJECT: REVISITING THE ELEMENTS OF INSTABILITY - AN 
ANALYSIS 
 
REF: A. CONAKRY 0287 
     ¶B. CONAKRY 0180 
     ¶C. CONAKRY 0182 
 
Classified By: POL/ECON CHIEF SHANNON CAZEAU FOR REASON 1.4 B AND D 
 
¶1.  (S) Guinea has been traversing a difficult political 
transition for more than two years now.  The country's 
political situation is unstable and its future, uncertain. 
Over the past year, Embassy has periodically submitted 
analytical pieces assessing Guinea's ever-evolving political 
and social environment, and anticipating potential transition 
points (reftels).  Since our last analysis in June, which was 
written just after the military mutiny in May, there have 
been several significant developments that suggest that we 
may quickly be approaching a critical transition point. 
 
------------------------------- 
CURRENT SOCIO-POLITICAL CONTEXT 
------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) PRESIDENT'S HEALTH - Embassy reporting indicates 
that President Conte's health has been in a relatively steady 
decline for several months.  He was reportedly on the verge 
of death in September, but then recovered.  He has been seen 
publicly, but did not attend Guinea's national celebration of 
50 years of independence in early October, nor the military's 
50th birthday celebration in early November.  Rumors of the 
president's poor health and imminent death have peaked once 
again this week, sparking widespread speculation in the press 
and in the streets that a change of regime is just around the 
corner. 
 
¶3.  (SBU) RETURN OF THE OLD GUARD - Since the May appointment 
of the new prime minister, Ahmed Tidiane Souare, the Guinean 
Government has quietly, but steadily, been bringing 
presidential loyalists and "old guard" bureaucrats back into 
government.  These loyalists include the Minister Secretary 
General of the presidency, Alpha Ibrahima Keira, a number of 
ministers, and many high-level civil servants throughout the 
government.  Much of the population sees these appointments 
as proof that nothing has changed, and that the government of 
consensus they demanded in early 2007 essentially failed. 
 
¶4.  (S) ECONOMIC CRISIS - The Guinean Government appears to 
be in an increasingly dire economic crisis.  There is no 
long-term budgetary planning in place, and the 2009 draft 
budget, which is supposed to go into effect January 1, was 
only recently turned over to the legislature for initial 
review.  It includes a planned budget defict of 5%.  Various 
societal sectors, including labor unions, the police, and the 
military, have made significant financial demands that the 
government has promised to meet in the near future.  The 
biggest obligation is expected to come due at the end of 
January when the government must deliver on its promise to 
provide substantial salary increases to military personnel. 
The GoG has been focused on fulfilling the requirements to 
meet the HIPC completion point, in order to take advantage of 
some $2 billion in debt relief in the new year.  Embassy has 
been increasingly concerned that the GoG does not intend to 
use this money in good faith, and may be counting on it to 
keep its budget from collapsing.  There are rumors that newly 
printed cash will be dumped on the economy as a short-term 
fix. 
 
¶5.  (S) GROWING MILITARY POWER - The military seems to be the 
GoG's most powerful national institution.  The State has been 
completely ineffective in restoring discipline among the rank 
and file soldiers, and essentially capitulates every time the 
military makes a new demand.  Discussions with high-level 
government contacts suggest that the government is afraid of 
the military and is at a loss as to how to control it. 
Ethnic and generational differences within the military have 
left the organization deeply divided, creating at least three 
different factions competing for power and influence.  We 
know that one of these groups is plotting a coup d'etat, and 
we expect that other groups may be doing so as well.  The 
general consensus among both military and civilian contacts 
is that ultimately, the military will step in when the 
president is removed from power, either by force or as a 
result of his death.  However, it is not clear who is in 
charge of the military, and there are signs of factionalism 
at all levels over ethnicity, rank, and connections to the 
regime. 
 
¶6.  (S) WEAKENING OF THE STATE - The Guinean State may be at 
its weakest point in history.  Power is centralized in the 
president, but the president's illness and general absence 
from the political scene, means that the decision-making 
 
CONAKRY 00000777  002 OF 003 
 
 
process is null.  There are many actors maneuvering behind 
the scenes, but they are also fighting amongst themselves for 
power and money, so that no one individual is clearly in 
control.  On a bilateral level, it is extremely difficult to 
work with the Guinean Government because individual ministers 
are fundamentally powerless to implement reforms, or to 
commit to cooperative efforts.  The government lacks any 
long-term vision because no-one knows how long they are going 
to be in office.  Widespread allegations of corrupt behavior 
suggest that many officials seem to simply be stuffing their 
pockets while they have an opportunity to do so. 
 
--------- 
SCENARIOS 
--------- 
 
¶7.  (S) In Reftel A, Embassy outlined a number of potential 
scenarios that could play out as the anticipated political 
transition continues to evolve.  These scenarios remain 
relevant. 
 
¶8.  (S) Much of our diplomatic efforts focus on the 
importance of legislative elections.  However, given the 
mounting socio-political pressures in the near-term, 
elections may end up being more of a long-term prospect. 
There are four likely scenarios with respect to elections: 
  -- Credible legislative elections bring better government 
  -- Credible legislative elections bring minimal change 
  -- Fraudulent legislative elections bring more of the same 
  -- GoG continues to postpone legislative elections. 
The steady return of old guard presidential loyalists and 
continued delays in organizing elections suggests that the 
first scenario may be difficult to achieve. 
 
¶9.  (S) The remaining scenarios focus on what may happen if 
elections do not take place, if the president dies while in 
office, and/or other elements force a political transition. 
They include: 
  -- Death of the president sparks military take over 
  -- Elements of the military successfully execute a coup 
d'etat 
  -- Mounting civilian pressure forces president to resign 
  -- Criminal elements influence events to favor continued 
criminal activity, especially narco-trafficking 
 
--------------------- 
MILITARY INTERVENTION 
--------------------- 
 
¶10.  (S) Available information and recent events suggest that 
Guinea may be approaching the first or second scenario. 
There is at least one group reportedly mobilized to implement 
a coup.  If this group deems Conte's health to be genuinely 
in jeopardy, they may decide to wait him out and then take 
action immediately after his death, or conversely, they may 
decide to move more quickly in order to preempt a coup 
attempt by competing military factions. 
 
¶11. (S) Either of these scenarios comes with a heightened 
potential for violence.  The general sense in Guinea has been 
that if violence erupts, it is likely to be relatively 
short-lived, i.e. anywhere between a few days and a few 
months.  We expect plenty of actors will try to manipulate 
the situation with ethnocentrism perhaps playing a major 
role.  At the same time, the Guinean population seems 
generally weary of the country's continued political 
uncertainty, and ready for some stability so that things can 
begin to constructively move forward.  Guineans also have a 
reputation of distaste for conflict. 
 
¶12.  (S) Should the military intervene and successfully 
restore order, civil society leaders are expected to push 
hard for a civilian transitional government leading to 
elections.  If violence were to continue, civilians and 
military alike might begin to cut deals in order to avoid a 
protracted conflict, much as they did during the 2007 strike. 
 Political manipulations based on ethnic ties have become 
increasingly potent tools in recent months, and it is likely 
that ethnicity would play a similar role as actors work to 
shape the transition period.  Once the dust settles from any 
military intervention, Guineans would likely look to the 
international community and bilateral partners, especially 
the United States, to help them move forward. 
 
---------------- 
MORE OF THE SAME 
---------------- 
 
¶13.  (S) It is important to note that Guinea has been 
 
CONAKRY 00000777  003 OF 003 
 
 
balancing on a precipice for some time now.  The political 
situation is inherently volatile.  We have seen escalation of 
tensions before that have quietly died down a few days later. 
 We may be in yet another such period, but it is too early to 
tell.  The scenarios we submitted in June are still relevant 
and provide a useful roadmap of the full range of possible 
situations that could develop.  Embassy officers have 
repeatedly made clear that the USG would not support a 
military coup or other extra-legal measures to topple the 
government.  Embassy continues to monitor the situation 
closely, and to prepare accordingly through Emergency Action 
Committee meetings. 
RASPOLIC