The global condemnation of the official violence unleashed on the people of Guinea, who had embarked on a peaceful pro- democracy demonstration is justified in every sense. There can be no excuse for the Guinean military authorities to open fire on defenceless people who were only asserting their rights to choose how they wish to be governed. Guinea’s military Head of State, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara should be told in unmistakable terms that his arm- twisting tactic is no longer in vogue.
If anything, the general condemnation of the massacre of over 150 pro- democracy protesters last week is a clear pointer to the fact that leaders who break faith with their people deserve no respect. While they have a right to contest for their country’s leadership position, they can only exercise that right in a civilised manner, not through the brute force. Obviously, Camara who had forced himself into office last December following the death of President Lassane Conte, has no intention of subjecting himself to a democratic process. After declaring himself head of State contrary to the country’s Constitution, he promised to guide the country to democratic rule. Specifically, he named himself President of the National Council for Democracy, which he called a transitional body that would oversee the country’s democratic elections.
Suddenly, a few weeks ago, he changed his mind about not standing for election and declared that he has a right to contest. That was enough to raise the people’s suspicion that his original plan is to manipulate the Presidential election scheduled for next January 31, and possibly perpetuate himself in power. Concerned Guineans were right to have embarked on a peaceful protest against Camara’s anti- democratic plot, which they did in a stadium near the capital, Conakry.
Guinean security forces subsequently opened fire on thousands of defenceless Guineans. This is unacceptable. Local rights groups reckon that about 157 persons were killed. Quoting hospital sources in the capital, which suggested the casualties’’ figure would be higher; the Guinean Human Rights Organisation estimated that more than 1, 250 people were injured in the violence. Camara’s explanation been unconvincing, it only confirms that the attack on the defenceless people was premeditated. First, he blamed the shootings on ‘’uncontrollable elements’’ in the military who allegedly responded to provocation by the people. Then the government said most of the victims were crushed in stampede at the stadium. However, the same government later blamed certain political leaders for staging the demonstration in alleged disregard for prior warning against the protest. Government further accused the leaders of causing the stampede, violence and looting of two police stations, and that the demonstrators let prisoners out of jail and stole weapons.
Nevertheless, the international community has rightly condemned the violence. The United Nations Security Council expressed ‘’ utmost concern’’ about reports that troops fired on people attending political rally and that women were raped. Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the United States, African Union, European Union, and France (which has suspended military cooperation with the country) have all condemned the unprovoked violence on defenceless citizens.
The least Camara can do is to end the repression, identify and punish those responsible for the killings, set political detainees free and allow a return to democratic rule in Guinea. In particular, Camara needs to reaffirm his earlier declaration that he would not stand in the way of a free and fair election. Attempting to do otherwise is a clear signal that democratic principles would be negated. It should also be clear to him that Guineans are not prepared to compromise true democracy, tired as they are already of autocratic rule.
Since 1958 when Guinea gained independence from France, the country has only had 2 presidents- Lansane Conte who came to power in 1984 when the military seized power in 1984 after the death of the first president, Sekou Toure. Camara seized power in December 2008 when Conte died. Captain Camara’’s tactics are indecent. He and the Guinean military are dragging AFRICA backward. They should allow a level playing field and respect the people’s right to choose their own leaders. In the meantime, all the trigger- happy state agents who opened fire on innocent citizens, should be charged for murder and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Culled from The (Nigerian) Guardian October 7, 2009
1. FAHAMU, a social justice organisation seeks a coordinator
Please spread among your contacts!
Position: Coordinator - Pan-African Fellowship Program. Base: Nairobi, Kenya office. Contract Period: Two years. Applications deadline: 17 December 2009 Start date: 18th January 2010.
From the local to the continental, the Fahamu Pan-African Fellowship (FPAF) program has a vision of nurturing African social justice leaders - generating contemporary, energetic, visionary and innovative thought and activism. FPAF is a one-year program that seeks to strengthen community based organisations and social movements across Africa by identifying individual community based activists with qualities of leadership and innovation, and providing them with hands-on work experience, training and development opportunities. The program aims to enhance the skills, knowledge and experience of community-based activists while increasing the effectiveness and professionalism of their affiliated organisations and movements.
Fellowship coordinator Fahamu is seeking a coordinator for its Pan-African Fellowship Program. The coordinator will be based in our Nairobi, Kenya office.
Reporting to the Deputy Director, the fellowship coordinator will be responsible for: • Developing curriculum for the Fellowship program and facilitating participatory workshops, seminars and other learning forums using diverse material and tools • Conducting briefing sessions for prospective fellows and developing fellowship application material • Identifying and coordinating the selection of host organisations, projects, fellows and mentors • Providing and coordinating fellows’ induction, monthly forums and seminars, evaluation and wrap-up workshops and seminars • Coordinating and maintaining consistent communication with fellows, host organisations, mentors and Fahamu • Moderating online discussions and forums for fellows for the continuous exchange of information, ideas, experiences, dialogue and resources • Coordinating the production of the book and video of fellows’ experiences • Providing regular updates and reports to multiple audiences on the fellowship program • Preparing financial and narrative reports at regular intervals • Fundraising, proposal writing and donor liaison for the program • Such other duties as may be required from time to time by mutual agreement You must: • Have at least five years experience working with social movements and community based organisations • Have demonstrable experience developing curriculum and training materials • Have demonstrable project leadership skills • Be highly organised and able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines • Have a demonstrable commitment to social justice and human rights in Africa • Have excellent inter-personal skills • Have excellent writing and communications skills • Be fluent in English. Fluency in Kiswahili is also preferred. • Be able to work with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences • Have budget and financial management experience • Be a self-starter, able to take initiative, and work effectively as part of a team • Be proficient in the use of word processing and spreadsheet software • Experience of using multi-media tools for multiple purposes is a plus • Be based in Nairobi with the ability to travel if and when necessary
This position is for an initial two year contract period. Please send your CV, cover letter and names of three referees to: firstname.lastname@example.org Applications close 17th December 2009. Applications received after this date will not be considered. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Position start date: 18th January 2010 This is a full time position. Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Fahamu is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
About Fahamu: Fahamu is a pan-African organisation that supports the movement for social justice in Africa. We work with social movements that address the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. Fahamu seeks to nurture these movements to become significant agents for change by enhancing individual, collective and organisational leadership, skills and knowledge, as well as by creating platforms and networks for effective advocacy, enhancing the use of diverse and innovative tactics and strategies for change, and amplifying Africa-centred voices, perspectives and solutions.
Submitted by Kemi Bello
2. Oxfam is taking in applications for OFXAM INTERNATIONAL YOUTH PARTNERSHIP, open to people below the age of 25. Deadline: october 2010. For more details please go to www.oiyp.oxfam.org Submitted by Yvonne Laruni.
Welcome to the MIVOICE blog, a virtual space where MILEAD Fellows and other guest bloggers can explore their freedom of expression. We welcome comments and suggestions and we are excited to join hands in moving Africa forward, one word and one action at a time.
Bienvenue sur le blog MIVOICE, un espace virtuel où les MILEAD Fellows et autres invités peuvent laisser cours libre à leur liberté d'expression et à leur inspiration. Les commentaires et suggestions sont les bienvenues et nous sommes heureuses de pouvoir joindre nos mains pour faire avancer l'afrique, d'un bout à l'autre par le pouvoir des mots et de notre volonté commune.