Political History of Guinea since World War Two

by Mohamed Saliou Camara (Author)
©2014 Monographs XXXII, 531 Pages
Series: Society and Politics in Africa, Volume 23


Political History of Guinea since World War Two provides an in-depth study of the political evolution of Guinea from World War Two to the present. Based on primary-source information, it examines with rare depth and breadth the eventful history of this nation-state, whose trajectory has impacted in no small ways Francophone Africa and the rest of the continent. Interviews with some of the most knowledgeable and most credible actors and/or witnesses of Guinea’s political history and archival research, including the papers of key individuals never opened to the public before, constitute the foundation of this work. The author’s personal and professional experience further strengthens the work. As a native Guinean, a historian, and a journalist imbued with the political ideology of the PDG regime, the author was also a close and alert witness of the political transformation of this country. Hence, the book offers an incisive analysis of domestic politics and policy making under the five successive regimes that have governed Guinea since independence in 1958. It also offers an equally incisive analysis of the country’s foreign relations within international frameworks such as the Organization of African Unity, the United Nations, the Nonalignment Movement, the Economic Community of West African States, the Mano River Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and so on. This ground-breaking work is perfectly suited for courses in areas such as history, political science, African studies, decolonization studies, Third World studies, and nationalism studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Illustrations
  • Maps
  • Figures
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Part I. The Multi-Stratum Context of Decolonization
  • Chapter 1. The Global Context
  • The United States, the NATO Factor and the Colonial Question
  • The Soviet Union, the Asia Factor and the Colonial Question
  • The United Nations and the Question of Decolonization
  • Chapter 2. The Pan-African Context
  • Global Pan-Africanism: The Conceptualization of “Black Liberation”?
  • Pan-Africanism in French Africa: False Dilemma between Unity and Independence
  • Chapter 3. The Context of French Guinea
  • The Political Evolution of French Guinea since WWII: The Birth of Party Politics and Labor Unionism
  • Implementation of the Defferre Law and Acceleration of History
  • The Abolition of Canton Chieftaincy and the Changing of Power Politics
  • From Competition to Cooperation toward Liberation
  • Part II. Guinea under Sékou Touré’s Regime: 1958–1984
  • Chapter 4. National Sovereignty, Statecraft and the Making of Single-Party Rule
  • Making the Leap from Decolonization to National Sovereignty
  • Statecraft and the Making of Single-Party Rule
  • Power Struggle and Radicalization of the PDG Regime
  • Chapter 5. Doctrinal Paradigms and Domestic Policy of the Touré Regime
  • The PDG Socialist Political Economy
  • Education Reform and the Socialist Cultural Revolution
  • Women’s Liberation and Youth Empowerment
  • The PDG Revolution, the “Perennial Plot” and the Human Rights Question
  • Chapter 6. The Foreign Policy of the Touré Regime
  • Africa-Centered Foreign Policy
  • Global Foreign Policy and the Cold War Factor
  • Chapter 7. From the PDG to the CMRN
  • A Cursory Assessment of the Legacy of the PDG Regime
  • The State of Guinean Society in 1984
  • Touré’s Death and Guinea’s First Regime Change: The End of an Era?
  • Part III. Guinea under the Regime of Lansana Conté and during Its Aftermath: 1984–2012
  • Chapter 8. The Conté Regime: Military Rule and Transformation of the State
  • The CMRN: A “Dutiful Liberator”?
  • Power Struggle and Ethnic Politics
  • The Path to Personal Rule and Kleptocracy
  • Chapter 9. The Economic and Social Policies of the Conté Regime
  • The Politics of Economic Liberalization in the Age of Structural Adjustment Programs
  • Socioeconomic Ramifications of the Economic Liberalization
  • Education Reform and the Challenge of Youth Unemployment
  • Women’s Liberation in a New Context
  • Chapter 10. Political Liberalization and the Democratization Agenda
  • Political Liberalization: Path to Democratic Self-Determination?
  • Political Pluralism and Deficit of Democracy
  • Media Liberalization
  • The Armed Forces in Conté’s Civilianized Regime
  • Associational Life and the Rise of Civil Society
  • Chapter 11. The Foreign Policy of the Conté Regime
  • Africa-Centered Foreign Policy
  • Global Foreign Policy
  • Chapter 12. The Twilight of the Conté Regime
  • Failure of Governance, Oligarchic Rule, and Social Unrest
  • The State of Guinean Society at the Dusk of the Conté Era
  • Chapter 13. The CNDD Regime and Beyond: Decadence and New Dawn?
  • The Rise and Fall of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and the CNDD
  • An Internationally Induced Transition under General Konaté
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Introduction
  • Part I. The Multi-Stratum Context of Decolonization
  • Chapter 1. The Global Context
  • Chapter 2. The Pan-African Context
  • Chapter 3. The Context of French Guinea
  • Chapter 4. National Sovereignty, Statecraft and the Making of Single-Party Rule
  • Chapter 5. Doctrinal Paradigms and Domestic Policy of the Touré Regime
  • Chapter 6. The Foreign Policy of the Touré Regime
  • Chapter 7. From the PDG to the CMRN
  • Part III . Guinea under the Regime of Lansana Conté and during Its Aftermath: 1984–2012
  • Chapter 8. The Conté Regime: Military Rule and Transformation of the State
  • Chapter 9. The Economic and Social Policies of the Conté Regime
  • Chapter 10. Political Liberalization and the Democratization Agenda
  • Chapter 11. The Foreign Policy of the Conté Regime
  • Chapter 12. The Twilight of the Conté Regime
  • Chapter 13. The CNDD Regime and Beyond: Decadence and New Dawn?
  • Conclusion
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

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| xiii →



The Republic of Guinea


1. Sékou Touré and de Gaulle: The last meeting of two nationalists (August 25, 1958)

2. Sékou Touré giving his historic speech before de Gaulle in Conakry on August 25, 1958. Behind him are de Gaulle and Saïfoulaye Diallo

3. The coat of arms of the Republic of Guinea as adopted in October 1958

4. Telli Diallo defending Guinea’s candidacy to the United Nations in New York (November 1958)

5. President Sékou Touré and his cabinet in November 1963

6. The P.D.G. Politburo in November 1963

7. Local mobilization during a PDG event in Conakry

8. Youth performance at a PDG event, 28 September National Stadium

9. Presidents Nkrumah, Kéita and Touré of the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union

10. Education in early independent Guinea, a girl leading a world geography class

11. Gender and education in independent Guinea, a view of a classroom

12. Linking theory & practice in higher education, a view of a classroom at IPGANC

13. The arts in nation-building, Aboubacar Demba Camara & the National Bembeya Jazz

14. Sports and Pan-Africanism: Hafia Football Club, permanent winner of the Kwame Nkrumah All Africa Cup

15. A front view of the Gamal Abdel Nasser Polytechnic Institute of Conakry (IPGANC)

16. Religion, politics, and nation-building: the first Catholic Church in Guinea (Fria, 1897)

17. Religion, politics, and nation-building: The Great Faisal Mosque of Conakry (built in 1979–1981) ← xiii | xiv →

18. The People’s Palace, a longstanding symbol of the varying types of state-party-people relations in Guinean politics (built by China in 1965–1967)

19. President Sékou Touré in military uniform denouncing the Portuguese invasion of Conakry in November 1970

20. Camara Mamadou aka Thiam, one of the Guinean exiles who participated in the invasion

21. Former government ministers Baldet Ousmane, Barry III and Magassouba Moriba and former police chief Kéita Kara hanged in January 1971

22. A view of the infamous Camp Boiro

23. Bauxite has long been Guinea’s economic lifeline; a view of a mine in Fria

24. Presidents Senghor of Senegal and Touré of Guinea

25. A view of the Fria aluminum refinery

26. President Touré hosting President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania

27. President Touré honoring President Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire

28. President Touré’s state funeral: 28 September National Stadium (March 30, 1984)

29. A young man vandalizing a poster of the late President (April 1984)

30. Col. Lansana Conté, President of the CMRN

31. Pro-Conté women at a political rally

32. With the adoption of multiparty politics Gen. Conté became a semi-civilianized politician

33. President Conté and U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (July 1999)

34. Alpha Ibrahima Sow, Guinea’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., signing the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” and the “Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court.” UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (April 2004)

35. National Assembly President Aboubacar Somparé addressing the World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments at the U.N. Photo/Eskinder Debebe (September 2005)

36. January 2007 general strike: An emblematic image of Guinea’s socio-political crisis

37. Labor leaders Rabiatou Sèrah Diallo (CNTG) and Ibrahima Fofana (USTG) during the 2007 strike

38. National Consensus Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York (September 2007) ← xiv | xv →

39. Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré addressing the U.N. General Assembly

40. CNDD President Cap. Moussa Dadis Camara and Defense Minister Gen. Sékouba Konaté

41. Cap. Camara and Lt. Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakité, head of presidential security

42. CNDD Prime Minister Kabiné Komara with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (November 2009)

43. Ousted CNDD leader Cap. Camara signing the Ouagadougou Accord (Ouagadougou, January 2010)

44. Burkina Faso President and ECOWAS Mediator Blaise Compaoré facilitates the transfer of power from Cap. Camara to Gen. Konaté (Ouagadougou, January 2010)

45. Gen. Sékouba Konaté, interim president (January-December 2010)

46. Outgoing CNDD Prime Minister Komara and incoming Transitional Prime Minister Jean Marie Doré

47. CNTG General Secretary and CNT President Rabiatou Sèrah Diallo

48. Interim President General Sékouba Konaté and Transitional Prime Minister Jean Marie Doré

49. UFDG candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo during the 2010 presidential campaign

50. RPG candidate Alpha Condé during the 2010 presidential campaign

51. Burkina Faso President and ECOWAS Mediator Blaise Compaoré negotiating an agreement between candidates Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé in Ouagadougou

52. President Alpha Condé with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (January 2012)

53. U.S. President Barack Obama welcoming President Alpha Condé to the Oval Office (2012)

| xvii →


In 2008, the Republic of Guinea lit its fiftieth candle as an independent and sovereign nation-state. The holding of a “truth and reconciliation” forum was supposed to be the highlight of the celebration; a “National Reconciliation and Solidarity Committee” had been formed and a budget adopted for that purpose. Unfortunately, the project never materialized, due to the seemingly inexorable political, economic and social crises into which the country had been sinking over the decades.

During the presidential campaign and elections of May and August 2010, national reconciliation became yet again the leitmotiv in the midst of the transition from the tumultuous rule of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to a hopefully democratic regime. In radio talk shows, on the Internet, in the print press, in private conversations and elsewhere, Guineans wondered endlessly how to achieve true national reconciliation in the face of a thickening fog of ethnocentricity, to which popular culture refers in that country as “ethnocracy.”

At this crucial juncture, I was interviewed on the political situation in Guinea and West Africa by several international media outlets, including BBC History Magazine, Newstalk93fm (Kingston, Jamaica), CNN World, Sanlian Life Weekly Magazine (Beijing, China), and BBC Africa. During the same period, a number of Guinean and African web radio stations invited me on their call-in talk shows to discuss my previous books on Guinea, in light of the ongoing transition. From the discussions that took place over the months, I came to the conclusion that the likelihood of achieving genuine national reconciliation in the foreseeable future is extremely slim, unless the emotional and self-serving, or rather self-defeating, manipulation of history is earnestly addressed.

Among those responsible for that manipulation two groups stand out, the first consisting of self-proclaimed ideological heirs to the late President Sékou Touré, whose memory and thoughts they are bent on rehabilitating. The second group mainly comprises former political prisoners and former exiles/self-exiles and the families of victims of the political purges of the 1960s and 1970s led by the Association des victimes du camp Boiro (that is, an association of family members of victims of the Boiro political detention camp in which an unknown number of real and perceived PDG opponents perished). Although some members of these groups appear open-minded and in search of a feasible way forward, many are outright fanatics.

It is incumbent upon historians, therefore, to deconstruct the trends that these groups exhibit by thoroughly researching, reconstructing, and analyzing ← xvii | xviii → the historical facts. In that process, historians ought to be keenly aware of the existence of dogmatic conceptions of “truth” when it comes to reconstructing and analyzing the recent past of the country, especially with regard to the question of “perennial plot” and state violation of human rights under Sékou Touré. Pro-Sékou Touré hardliners tend to fustigate anyone, historian or not, who attempts to deconstruct their version of “truth,” according to which, if any entity can be considered a victim of the recent past, Touré and his family should be that entity. Also, members of the self-righteous anti-Sékou Touré wing are quick to label any such historian a nostalgic propagandist of a dead past.

Paradoxically, elements of the first group insist that national reconciliation cannot be achieved, unless Guineans stop digging into the past and start looking only forward. The reasoning of one such individual, with whom I have had long conversations on the matter, is that Guinean historians have the responsibility to help bring about closure and healing among the Guinean people by conveying a message of reconciliation and not continuing to dig into the past (!). She basically rejected the idea that, unless the facts are reconstructed and brought to light for all to ponder, rumors and counter-truths will continue to poison people’s minds, especially among the youth, and deepen the hatred that she denounced.

According to this and other likeminded individuals, the whole truth would have been known, had the CMRN military regime of General Lansana Conté allowed former PDG dignitaries to confront their accusers in a trial instead of summarily executing them in 1984 and 1985. At the same time, she insists that expecting the PDG regime to put the thousands of “plotters” on trial with lawyers to defend them in court would be asking too much of that regime at that time. My interlocutor insisted that the country simply could not afford it and challenged anyone to name one case in which such a trial took place on the entire African continent at that time.

At the same time, elements of the second group want nothing short of digging deeper and deeper into the past. Their purpose, though, is not finding the truth, however unpleasant it may be; rather, they are interested in exonerating, at all costs, their loved ones who perished in political detention camps during the regimes of Presidents Sékou Touré and Lansana Conté.

It goes without saying that neither approach is conducive to an objective, balanced, and productive study of Guinea’s political history. Thankfully, the large majority of Guineans, especially the younger generations, are genuinely interested in learning the past for the purpose of preparing a better future in accordance with the idea that the transcendental value of the past resides in its potential to inform the present toward a better future. To such persons and to the entire readership, including those not genuinely interested in “digging into ← xviii | xix → the past,” historians owe objectivity in their reconstruction, documentation, and analytical presentation of the facts. Yet they can best fulfill that responsibility by being constantly mindful of the fact that their primary loyalty is to history and not to any particular sociopolitical entity.

The present book stems from a careful reflection on the foregoing considerations in the context of the moral and intellectual responsibility of historians. It evolved through a long period of research, beginning in my journalism years at Guinea’s Voix de la Révolution radio and television network (1980s). The research has produced two books, His Master’s Voice: Mass Communication and Single-Party Politics in Guinea under Sékou Touré (Africa World Press, 2005) and Le pouvoir politique en Guinée sous Sékou Touré (L’Harmattan, 2007), and a number of articles on different aspects of the political, military, media, religious and socio-cultural history of the country. To some extent, therefore, Political History of Guinea since World War Two can be posited as a culmination of my research and writings on Guinea to date.

I first planned to write the book in French with the desire to help refocus the confused and confusing debate that surrounds the country’s long-standing sociopolitical and economic crisis by placing it in the proper historical perspective. However, my wife, Cynthia, tenaciously argued that a complete political history of Guinea would be more useful in the Anglophone world, where, in many regards, knowledge of that country is in its infancy. Then, the outpouring of pointed questions regarding the historical background to the senseless violence against peaceful civilians, the beating and public raping of women by security forces on the fifty-first anniversary of the country’s democratic rejection of French colonialism confirmed her argument.

Furthermore, when United States President Barack Obama mentioned Guinea in his 2010 State of the Union address, it was to underscore the gross malgovernance of that country and its potential negative effects on international security. After mentioning a new initiative that will give the U.S. the capacity to counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad, Obama indicated, “That’s why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea.”

The confluence of these high-profile reasons and more insidious ones further compelled me to develop this study in English. The book is not tailored to fit the preoccupations of any particular group at any particular instance in history, however. Rather, just like any other history book of its kind, it is purported to be a valuable intellectual tool for scholars, students, and the general public alike. ← xix | xx →

The originality of the study owes much to the substantial amount of primary-source information from which it stems. Those sources include interviews with a large array of Guinean nationals of various backgrounds and positions, as well as African and foreign experts. The sources also include personal papers of current and former leaders in the fields of politics, administration, security, education, mass media, finance, and so on, and those of former political prisoners. Adequate access to and usage of primary-source information further strengthens the scientific balance of the book, especially in view of the precarious state of much of Guinea’s colonial archives and those covering the first decades of independence.

In an effort to fill that gap, my intensive interviewing went beyond the national elite and included leaders and members of local political entities and civil society organizations, whose experiences and perspectives more accurately reflect those of the grassroots Guinean citizenry. This extensive usage of primary sources (Guinean, African, and foreign) will give the reader a varied body of authentic accounts as well as original and pertinent analyses of the relatively short and yet rich, complex, and stimulating historical period that is the subject of my inquiry.

| xxi →


My utmost gratitude goes to my wife, Cynthia, for being patient, understanding and supportive throughout the years it took me to research and write this book. The richness and originality of the work was made possible in many regards by the cooperation of numerous actors, witnesses, and analysts of the historical facts, events, and processes studied therein. For sharing with me their memories and analytical input and the contents of their jealously preserved personal papers I am deeply indebted and sincerely grateful to them. Although the sheer number makes it unpractical to name them here, the reader will encounter their names and input throughout the text. The contribution of those persons is all the more valuable because some of them had to defy or ignore risks of harassment and intimidation in order to grant me recorded interviews or even informal conversations on particularly sensitive matters, with the understanding that their accounts may appear on the pages of this book.

Indeed, harassment and intimidation have long become powerful weapons in the hands of both supporters and detractors of each of the successive regimes having ruled Guinea since 1958. Each side seems determined to impose its “historical truth” and, in the process, drag in the mud anyone who dares to offer an account that contradicts that “truth.” The methods to that end are today all the more perverse with the use and misuse of the Internet and its multimedia capabilities. I am certainly aware of this trend for having experienced it first hand in a variety of ways.

I am particularly grateful to Professor Lynnette Porter of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for the utmost professionalism with which she read and helped shape the manuscript through her pertinent remarks and insightful suggestions. I am also sincerely thankful to Christopher Hayden, a respected independent scholar of Guinean affairs, and Ambassador Alpha Ibrahima Sow, a renowned Guinean scholar and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for their eminently enriching feedback.

While researching the colonial archives in Senegal and France I benefited tremendously from the assistance of numerous individuals. I am thankful to them all. I am equally thankful to a number of Guinean media outlets for allowing me to use their forums and cross-reference some of my primary-source information with knowledgeable guests. ← xxi | xxii →

As well, my gratitude goes to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for the support I received toward the publication of this work. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the Press Bureau of the Presidency of the Republic of Guinea (identified in the photo credits as PBPRG); the Communication Division of the Guinean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (identified in the photo credits as DCMAEG for Direction de la communication du Ministère des affaires étrangères de Guinée); the Communication Bureau of the Presidency of Burkina Faso (identified in the photo credits as CBPBF); the United Nations Multimedia Resources Unit; the United States Department of State; Tierno S. Bah, the publisher of WebGuinée; Chantal Colle Communications; Guineeweb; the French Press Agency (AFP); RFI.fr; Aminata.com; Generation Positive; the Press Bureau of the Republic of Guinea (identified in the photo credits as PBRRG); and Cynthia Froehlich for granting me the permission to reprint the map and photos published in this book.

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XXXII, 531
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (February)
evolution ideology transformation archival research
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 564 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Mohamed Saliou Camara (Author)

Mohamed Saliou Camara is Professor of History and International Relations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. A former journalist for the National Radio Television of Guinea, a former speechwriter for the Guinean Presidential Press Bureau, and a Fulbright alumnus, he holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. Dr. Camara is the author of His Master’s Voice: Mass Communication and Single-Party Politics in Guinea under Sékou Touré; Le pouvoir politique en Guinée sous Sékou Touré; The Development of a Trans-National Region in West Africa: Transcending the Politics of Sovereign Nation States; and the fifth edition of Historical Dictionary of Guinea (with Thomas O’Toole and Janice Baker).


Title: Political History of Guinea since World War Two
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