Though the public health facilities reported the death toll at 56, official reports cite that 151 people were killed and at least another 1,200 were injured in stadium protests in Conakry led by the opposition. Brewing ethnic tensions may be keeping many away from hospitals, leaving additional wounded still uncounted. Women who have been victims of rape are in most need of counseling, which is currently underprovided. The renewed global commitment to protecting these women was made tangible by a unanimous vote on a UN resolution on sexual violence in conflict zones that occurred two days after the stadium attacks. The urgency for the implementation of this resolution is clear.
International schools in Conakry closed their doors on the 27th of September and most non-essential personnel of the diplomatic corps and international organizations have left Conkry. Guinean schools were re-scheduled to begin their academic year on October 15th, though it is not likely that they will open their doors in such a political climate
Yesterday marked the end of a two-day strike in the country called by trade unions to protest Camara’s leadership and successfully and nonviolently brought Conakry to a standstill as citizens stayed indoors and brought mining production, a major source of income, to a halt.
Politically, the situation continues to be difficult to navigate. Celou Dalein Diallo is the leader of the main opposition party and is currently in France recovering from injuries sustained at the stadium protests. Sidya Toure, a former prime minister, is the head of another opposition party, the Union of Republic Forces. The URF rejected Camara’s call for unity at the beginning of the month. Camara continues to express that though he is uncertain of whether he will stand for re-election, that his natural rights as a Guinean citizen should not obstruct such a decision. Given the outbreak of violence on the 28th, Toure and Guinean civil society find this to be an unacceptable possibility.
Pressure from the international community, though slightly late on the uptake, needs to grow from here with only four days left before the opposition’s deadline for Camara to announce his commitment to not be involved in the upcoming election cycle in January 2010. The EU’s development commissioner, Karel de Gucht has already begun calls for Camara to be held accountable for crimes against humanity.
My soul’s exhaustion is mostly caused by the anxiety of what may happen if actions taken to secure Guineans’ right to freely choose their own representation do not begin to gain more decisive momentum before Saturday. With my mother poised behind blue helmets but with little concern for self when faced with others’ suffering, the anxiety is heightened. With the prospect of the breakout of ethnic tensions—though quite unlikely—given how her Tutsi features translate in an environment hostile to the Fulani, my mind is all the more occupied. But the call for stable governance precedes this. The argument for civil society’s right to hold leaders accountable to promises made as they ascended to power is worth fighting for. After his successful coup in December, Camara promised to not stand for re-election stating, "We are patriots, not hungry for power. We don't intend to stay in power forever." The international community must show its respect for Guinean civil society through “tired feet” supporting humanitarian efforts in the country and by looking towards Saturday as a strict deadline.
By Martine Randolph, Africa Action