Viewing cable 09CONAKRY341

09CONAKRY3412009-06-15 16:29:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Conakry
DE RUEHRY #0341/01 1661629
P 151629Z JUN 09
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 CONAKRY 000341 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2019 
D D 
¶1.  (S) In assessing Guinea's post-coup environment (septel), 
Embassy's reporting team has also been looking at the 
potential longer term implications of our current bilateral 
foreign policy towards Guinea.  Embassy fully supports the 
condemnation of the December 23 coup and the subsequent 
suspension of all but humanitarian and election-related 
assistance.  We recognize and support the idea that our 
policy will not change until Guinea successfully organizes 
legislative elections.  At the same time, there is some 
concern that we may be backing ourselves into a corner and 
limiting our ability to influence the principal players. 
While we are not advocating a shift in our overall policy 
approach, we do feel it is important to highlight certain 
concerns and discuss implications.  This policy discussion 
looks both at the immediate, pre-election period as well as 
the post-election period. 
¶2.  (S) It is increasingly clear that both legislative and 
presidential elections will be delayed into 2010, and 
possibly even longer.  As this period draws out, the USG will 
continue to push for elections while withholding aid.  If the 
situation were to deteriorate further, we anticipate that the 
USG would take an even tougher stance.  At the same time, 
given the fragile nature of the Guinean state and the 
distinct possibility that democracy will ultimately fail to 
take root, Embassy recommends that we consider engaging more 
strategically with the GOG while being sensitive to the need 
to avoid undermining our stated policy. 
¶3.  (S) Our principal concern is that we are dealing with a 
military junta that may very well evolve into some kind of 
permanent government, despite all efforts to the contrary. 
By limiting our engagement, we increase the likelihood that 
Guinea will seek out other international partners, such as 
China, Libya, and Iran.  We also lose the opportunity to try 
to influence key decisions.  Although the CNDD seems to be 
making itself comfortable, there is still an opportunity to 
encourage its members to move in a different direction.  They 
like the U.S. and they are desperate for guidance. 
¶4.  (S) Our current engagement with the GoG is limited. 
While this sends an important public message, it also means 
that we lack opportunities to articulate and explain our 
policy position.  We have done this repeatedly in the press 
and with lower level contacts, but information from sources 
indicates that the GoG is either not getting the message or 
is not understanding its implications.  We have also been 
labeled "naive" in the sense that we do not truly understand 
the Guinean reality, and as a result, have instituted an 
unrealistic policy response that many Guineans do not 
¶5.  (S) We are not proposing open engagement with the CNDD. 
We do not need to meet with Dadis and we can continue our low 
profile interactions with lower-level CNDD members.  However, 
we do recommend that the Embassy be granted more flexibility 
so that we can strategically engage at higher levels.  The 
Charge currently does not meet with anyone at the cabinet 
level.  Since Guinea is a protocol conscious country, 
messages at higher levels carry more weight.  The USG's 
refusal to engage at the principal officer level limits how 
effective we can be in articulating our message and 
influencing decisions.  This is not to say that the 
Charge/Ambassador would automatically start meeting routinely 
with ministers, but rather, that we should be able to target 
key ministers who we think could play a prominent role. 
These ministers include Justice, High Crimes and Banditry, 
Finance, Security, and Information.  Four of these ministers 
are military officers directly linked to the CNDD. 
¶6.  (S) During meetings with interlocutors since the coup, 
Embassy has observed that the CNDD-led government seems 
desperate for guidance, especially within the security 
sector.  While we certainly get asked for money, it is clear 
that contacts are also looking for us to explain our policy 
and suggest ways that the military can extricate itself from 
the current situation.  Some CNDD members are seeking to stay 
in power, but others are trying to gracefully fade into the 
background.  Outside the government, there is a second tier 
of advisors that are not necessarily publicly connected to 
the CNDD, but who have access to key decision makers.  These 
contacts are within the security sector and are interested in 
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everything from anti-narcotics efforts to security sector 
reform.  We already engage with these invidividuals, 
primarily as sources of information, as many of them are 
long-time contacts who pre-date the coup.  The USG may want 
to consider ways we can use these contacts as conduits to 
advance our policy agenda.  Embassy recognizes that such 
engagement would need to be handled carefully, but also sees 
the potential for success in such interactions.  At this 
point, it might be useful to have a broader discussion of how 
we could strategically engage with these contacts. 
¶7.  (S) It is increasingly likely that we will be dealing 
with the CNDD for at least another year, if not longer.  We 
need to think about ways we can engage with them more 
directly, without undermining our overall policy position, so 
that we can advance our interests. 
¶8.  (S) Elections do not represent a perfect solution to 
Guinea's political crisis, but Embassy believes that they 
represent the best democratic solution.  With that said, 
there appear to be significant hurdles to overcome in order 
to get them to take place in a free, fair, and transparent 
¶9.  (S) Before the coup, the USG maintained that the GoG 
needed to contribute some funding to elections as a 
demonstration of political will and vested interest.  Embassy 
continues to advance this argument, but we question whether 
the goal at this point should be trying to make the GoG 
contribute, or whether we should be looking to do what it 
takes to simply make the elections happen.  The international 
community is already footing much of the bill and some of our 
partners have started looking at how they can help further 
close the gap (currently $19 to $20 million).  A number of 
civil society contacts have questioned how the USG can 
publicly call for elections but then refuse to provide the 
necessary financing that would ultimately force the CNDD's 
hand.  If we are calling for elections, we need to consider 
putting more money into them in order to negate at least one 
of the CNDD's delay tactics.  Additional funds would be 
programmed to support such things as the purchase of supplies 
and equipment, and salaries for poll workers. 
¶10.  (S) Policy cohesion among key multilateral partners will 
be critical to advancing the electoral agenda.  A number of 
our Western partners, particularly France, Germany, and the 
EU, initially opted to work under the auspices of the ICG-G 
as an effective mechanism for presenting a united 
multilateral position.  However, support for the ICG-G is 
waning.  ECOWAS and the AU have soft-pedaled the multilateral 
message, often excluding key ICG-G members from participating 
in meetings with the junta-led government.  Embassy 
recommends reconsidering the utility of the ICG-G as 
currently structured, which increasingly seems to be at cross 
purposes with our stated policy objectives. 
¶11.  (S) We are beginning to sense a growing frustration 
among some of our key donor partners, which indicates that 
individual countries may be more willing to adopt a harsher 
bilateral policy position towards Guinea.  At the same time, 
ECOWAS and the AU may be going in the opposite direction. 
The USG needs to capitalize on partners' frustration to 
foster a stronger, more cohesive multi-lateral approach to 
the coup, which would hopefully include new announcements of 
suspension of aid packages.  Greater cohesion among the donor 
countries could help keep ECOWAS and the AU from sliding 
towards leniency.  For our policy to be effective, Dadis 
needs to understand that the international community is 
united and unwilling to budge, something that has not been 
well demonstrated to date.  To advance this objective, 
Embassy plans to reinvigorate our engagement with key 
partners over the coming months. 
¶12.  (S) Finally, Embassy is concerned that the IMF and the 
World Bank may ultimately waver in their approach to Guinea. 
The GOG may make the decision easy by failing to pay its debt 
service, but in the meantime, the international financial 
institutions may be considering a more tolerant engagement 
with Guinea, including reinstatement of suspended programs. 
Policy unity within the broader international community will 
help reinforce the WB/IMF's initial response.  It is 
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important that these institutions not backslide six months 
post-coup to provide much needed financial relief.  Not only 
would such actions prop up the GOG, they could also be viewed 
as legitimizing the junta. 
¶13.  (S) In addition to government-to-government engagement, 
we should not overlook the importance of increasing our 
influence by directly engaging the Guinean people through our 
public diplomacy efforts.  Currently all public diplomacy 
programs that are not directly related to promoting democracy 
and elections have been suspended.  While supporting 
democracy and elections is the number one priority of the 
public diplomacy program, as it is for the entire Mission, 
other PD programs should not be ignored, as they enhance our 
image and increase our influence among the Guinean people. 
Programs such as the Ambassador,s Fund for Cultural 
Preservation, promotion of English teaching, and other 
cultural programs are not assistance to the government of 
Guinea, but are designed to increase goodwill towards the 
United States among the Guinean people.  At a time when 
Guineans may perceive the United States as abandoning them or 
not understanding the situation in Guinea, these programs can 
have a multiplier effect on democracy-related programs by 
showing the United States in a positive light and make an 
excellent platform for directly engaging the Guinean people 
about democracy issues.  Post recommends considering 
restoring certain, select public diplomacy programs. 
¶14.  (S) Although elections are of immediate concern, Embassy 
is also looking at the challenges of a post-election Guinea. 
Assuming that the elections are relatively free and fair, the 
country will have a brand new legislature (hopefully followed 
shortly by a president) comprised of largely inexperienced, 
politically underdeveloped members of several major political 
parties.  At the same time, the military will be waiting in 
the wings to step in at the first sign of trouble.  The 
fledgling government is going to require significant amounts 
of technical assistance and reinforcement if it is to survive. 
¶15.  (S) The Mission typically receives between $2 and $4 
million annually for democracy promotion efforts through 
USAID.  If Guinea is able to successfully organize elections, 
we should be prepared to capitalize on that success and 
immediately increase engagement so as to avoid backsliding. 
Significantly higher funding levels will be needed to achieve 
this goal. 
¶16.  (S) Similarly, the military is going to require 
attention.  Through past Mission Strategic Plans, we have 
highlighted the importance of working to professionalize 
Guinea's military forces.  This goal will become of paramount 
importance in a post-election environment.  We anticipate 
needing to flood the Embassy's security assistance program 
with funds in order to support professionalization programs, 
including Guinean participation in ACOTA.  A detailed 
analysis of the current situation within the military and a 
recommended post-election response is being submitted 
separately through the DAO. 
¶17.  (S) The situation in Guinea is complicated and there are 
no perfect solutions.  Embassy fully supports our current 
policy position.  At the same time, we are concerned that we 
may be witnessing the evolution of a new dictatorial regime. 
Our current strategy of limited engagement may mean that we 
are missing an opportunity to influence events and encourage 
democracy.  We have repeatedly stated our policy and made it 
clear that we will not resume normal bilateral relations 
until elections are held.  However, we have not put forward 
enough funds to support our position.  We also have refrained 
from engaging with the CNDD, which has limited our ability to 
facilitate their departure. 
¶18.  (S) Six months post-coup, it seems like a worthwhile 
exercise to evaluate where we are at, where Guinea is headed, 
and how we might influence events.  In the immediate term, we 
should consider a more flexible engagement with the CNDD 
while at the same time ensuring that we do not undermine our 
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underlying policy message.  We also need to consider 
increasing our funding for elections. Finally, it is time to 
ramp up our engagement with our multilateral partners. Once 
elections happen, we need to be ready to step in with 
significant packages of assistance, both for the military and 
the civilian sectors. 
¶19.  (S) Guinea is a fragile state at risk of quickly 
becoming a failed state, a development that could set off a 
wave of problems in a fragile region.  At the same time, it 
is a country with enormous economic and political potential. 
USG objectives in Guinea have traditionally focused on 
democracy and good governance, economic development, and 
security.  Our current policy position reinforces these 
objectives, but it may also ultimately cause us to lose 
ground.  Embassy appreciates the opportunity to share this 
policy discussion and looks forward to continued discussions 
with the Department.