Tag Archives: Guinea

After me comes Al Qaeda: New Yorker article on Moussa Dadis Camara

Jon Lee Anderson has an article in the April 12, 2010 New Yorker on Moussa Dadis Camara, the former head of the short-lived military junta in Guinea.  H/T to Amanda. (Subscription required, sadly.)

Dadis comes across as deeply insecure and erratic.  Here are some highlights:

  • Dadis thought he could win US support for his junta by portraying the alternative as Al Qaeda-run narco-state.  He told Anderson: “O.K., the U.S. will make me leave, but after me comes integristes, Al Qaeda, and a narco-trafficking government!”
  • Dadis claimed to have proof that Al Qaeda was behind the September 28 soccer stadium massacre.  ”Dadis gave me a copy of the DVD with the proof of Al Qaeda’s presence in the stadium, but it didn’t work.”
  • On Anderson’s first meeting with Dadis: “…Dadis appeared distracted and barely mustered a hello.  Then, with his mood alternating between moroseness and defiance, he embarked on a monologue that lasted for more than two hours.”
  • “[Dadis'] last position before he took power had been managing the Guinean Army’s fuel supplies.”
  • It appears the Burkinabe government tricked Dadis into going to Burkina Faso after being treated in Morocco following an assassination attempt.  Dadis thought he was returning to Guinea.  ”When Dadis realized where he was, he apparently resisted leaving the plane and had to be coaxed off.”

Tim Hetherington has a photo slideshow on The New Yorker site that does not require a subscription.  There is a truly bizarre picture picture between the 32 and 37 second marker.

“Members of the armed forces of Guinea limit their use of weapons to engage lawful targets!”

slide

One slide from a PowerPoint presentation that would have encouraged Guinean soldiers to respect human rights.

Sometimes I think I should create a tag called “truth is stranger than fiction.”

David Crane and Alan White, two lawyers who indicted Charles Taylor in 2003, consulted for Moussa Dadis Camara’s short-lived junta in Guinea, and offered to advise Camara’s military on the rules of armed conflict.   Part of their proposal to advise the military included a PowerPoint slideshow, which you can see on Foreign Policy’s website.

Slides are along the lines of:

Members of the armed forces of Guinea treat everyone they find humanely and with respect.  Civilians!  Medical Personnel!  Prisoners!

(The official language of Guinea is French.  Why did Crane and White put together a slideshow in English?)

The proposal fell through after Camara was shot.  One might be inclined to laud this interesting attempt at promoting respect for human rights among a military junta no one was sure how to deal with.  But it is hard to forgive the internal assessment they wrote for Camara on the September 2009 soccer stadium massacre (first reported in Africa Confidential).   The report found the scale of violence to be significantly lower than human rights groups found, and downplayed the role of Guinea’s leadership.  Foreign Policy quotes an “international human rights researcher who investigated the massacre” saying:

“The CW [Crane and White's company] report is a dishonest and misleading report, and it is shameful that persons formerly associated with the Sierra Leone Special Tribunal authored it…It is absolutely clear that they ignored evidence that was widely available to them, both in terms of the scale of the atrocities and the responsibility for the massacre. Their motives in writing a white-wash report for the Guinean authorities have to be questioned.”

What were Crane and White thinking?  Were they trying to cozy up to the junta with an ultimate goal of transforming the regime?  Or were they just in this for the money?

Loj says reports of Liberians participating in Guinea killings not proven

This is a quote from Ellen Margrethe Loj, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia, speaking about reports of Liberians participating in the killing of protesters in Conakry last month:

“None of those reports have been substantiated to this day. We are of course keeping a very, very close eye on what is happening and up until now, we can only notice ordinary trading and traffic,” Loj said.

Crisis Group report on Guinea

Here is an excerpt from an International Crisis Group report that just came out on the massacre of protesters in Guinea last month:

The defence minister, Sekouba Konaté, a key figure in the current power structure, has important connections with rebel and militia groups from Guinea’s and Liberia’s recent past. He has built up substantial connections within the military and business community over the years and has reportedly gained considerable control over the award of government contracts.51 For example, the contract awarded to an American company SCS Hyperdynamics to share offshore oil exploration, was done with his support.

 

Konaté was appointed by Conté to oversee operations of the LURD rebels in Macenta due to his experience in the Liberian and Sierra Leone conflicts. He has strong ties with the LURD leadership and rank and file and is currently tightly linked to Aisha Damate Conneh, an important figure in that organisation to whose house in Conakry he provides protection. He has also helped secure jobs for ex-LURD combatants at the Cellcom phone company.53 These links may shed some light on the reported presence of Liberians among the armed men who attacked and killed protesters on 28 September. In addition, several credible sources claim that Konaté, or people acting for him, have been involved in recruiting young men from his Malinké ethnic group to join the contingent at the Kaliah military training centre.

I haven’t read the whole report yet (microeconomics midterm on Monday!), so if anyone gets to it before me let me know what you found most interesting.

Methods that do not meet the military ethos

Another Guinean claiming that foreign fighters must be colluding with the Guinean military because Guinean soldiers would never do anything like this.

“Some men use methods that do not meet the military ethos and that makes us believe they are foreigners. We believe that Guinean soldiers would never have delivered the abuses we have witnessed on September 28,” said political analyst Madani Diallo.

More evidence Liberians participated in Guinea massacre

AFP is reporting quite definitively that Liberians participated in the massacre of protesters in Conakry at the end of last month.  It has sources from the army, an international African NGO, and of course the opposition guys.

“It was the presidential guard … with elements from ULIMO and the NPFL that did that, that massacre,” a military source in Conakry said on condition of anonymity…

“ULIMO members currently surround the head of the junta, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara,” the military source said, adding that ex-NPFL fighters were simply looking to work as mercenaries…

Conte had supported the creation of ULIMO and oversaw training of some of its members in Guinea, which neighbours Liberia.

Meanwhile, residents of Guinea Forestiere – an area near Liberia’s border — fought on the side of Taylor’s rebels in the 1989-2003 war. Many soldiers recruited since Camara took power come from the same region, the source said.

Both the rights group and opposition source use as evidence charms they saw that were common during the Liberian war.  I find this, in addition to the language evidence, persuasive.  I do not find this persuasive:

Another opposition leader, Francois Lonseny Fall, said “we have never seen such a massacre in Guinea,” with the violence including women being raped with guns and sticks.

“It recalls the techniques used in Liberia,” he said.

Also, check out the updates I added to the previous post to reflect two excellent comments from readers.

Guinea and Liberia

Moussa Dadis Camara, President of Guinea.

Moussa Dadis Camara, President of Guinea.

What does the crisis in Guinea have to do with Liberia?

Two Updates: Jeff Austin just posted this comment.

I have heard rumors that Aishe Conneh, former wife of LURD leader Sekou Conneh, is still in Conakry. She was close to Lansana Conte, and supposedly funneled Liberian former fighters into the crackdowns in the last couple years of Conte’s rule. The rumor goes that she has kept her influence under the new regime and was responsible for the Liberians who were involved in the recent violence, if that was in fact the case. Anyone have anything on this? Also, I know Dadis to be Guerza, from what I have read and from some Guerza people I met in March who told me this. From what I know, it is one of the small forest region tribes. Perhaps it is related to the Kpelle?

Cheechiay Jablasone  posted this comment via Facebook.

If the Guinean opposition makes accusation that Liberians were involved in the suppression of protesters in Conakry because Dadis Kamara is Kpelle, a tribal group also in Liberia, then they need to note this fact: Kpelles are about the most peaceful, submissive group in Liberia. These people are known to be growers and not hunters or warriors. The few Kpelle that were fighters in the Liberian war fought for NPFL not ULIMO. Fighters of the latter were mainly Mandingoes, a tribal group in both Liberia and Guinea and the Krahns. Guineans need to look at their history of a strongman leadership and stop pointing at Liberia.

“Uncontrollable elements”

Two good updates on the killings of protesters in Guinea are here(Ethan Zuckerman) and here (Texas in Africa).

An excerpt from an editorial in Liberia’s Daily Observer:

After the killings in the Stadium, [Moussa “Dadis” Camara] told the Radio France that those who committed the atrocities were “uncontrollable elements” in the army. If he cannot control his army boys, how can he control a country? He must go!

Of course it’s more likely Camara ordered the killings, or at least condoned them.