A brewing crisis

Saturday May 7, 2005 · Flavio Grassi

Guinea could soon become the next crisis flashpoint in Africa.

The general prosecutor for war crimes in Sierra Leone David Crane, has accused ex Liberian president Charles Taylor of plotting from his golden exile in Nigeria to assassinate his arch-enemy: the president of Guinea Lansana Conté.

He has already tried it last January. But in all likelihood, Taylor will not be able to attempt the assassination again. Nor will he need to.

President Lansana Conté, a general who took power with a coup in 1984 and was later elected and reelected through electoral processes of very dubious fairness, is dying from diabetes.

Whether his life ends as a result of a bullet from Taylor or of a final diabetic crisis, Conté’s death will leave a power vacuum of which there are already disturbing signs.

Apparently the president is falling into comas that are progressively becoming more frequent and prolonged. In the capital city Conakry nobody has seen him in public for months. The lieutenants around him are getting ready to grab as much as possible of his inheritance, including power.

There is no clear line of succession and constitutional guarantees are all but inexistent. In such a situation the struggle for power can very easily turn into a fight among warlords. Which in turn can just as easily grow into an ethnic struggle.

It would be nice if this time the international community found a way to move before having to say “never again”. again.

The Perspective, Alertnet