The local elections last February in Guinea seem to have rekindled the fuse (never extinguished) of divisions and ethnic hatred between the various groups that make up the mosaic of this country. At least 15 people have died so far in clashes between security forces, government supporters and opposition protesters. Situation that prompted Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to sound the alarm.

Not only. As the facts of international politics are teaching us, even in Guinea social networks have become part of the battlefield. Used to spread a rhetoric of division and hatred. But it is only an evolution of a phenomenon that unfortunately dawned when social networks did not even exist. “I think the clashes between the communities have started in Guinea for a long time”, says Mamadou Hassimiou Souare, director of publication of the Guinean information website Africa Guinee (africaguinee.com). “In 1993, for example, I remember that there were clashes between Fulani and Susu after the presidential elections that saw General Lansana Conté (Susu) be elected head of the country,” continues Souare.

That was a very controversial election, with Conté having held the government since 1984 after a bloodless coup and re-emerged to win and remain in government until the day of his death. A report by the US State Department in January 1994 stated that the government (therefore Conté) controlled the electoral process from start to finish and the opposition was denied any significant role, although all 42 Guinean political parties participated in that election.

“While racial or ethnic discrimination is prohibited by the Constitution and the Penal Code, ethnic identification is strong, and mutual suspicion influences relations between ethnic lines, inside and outside the government. The cabinet includes representatives of all the major ethnic groups. A disproportionate number of senior military officers is Susu, the ethnic group of President Conté. In March there were incidents of inter-ethnic violence between Susu and Fulani, including some in Forecariah, where the houses were looted and destroyed in the wake of a political demonstration, and in Conakry, where a minor incident escalated into combat that resulted in two dead. In September, inter-ethnic violence between Fulani and Susu in Conakry led to 63 deaths. During the election season, Malinke and supporters of the presidential candidate Alpha Condé clashed primarily with President Conté’s Susu supporters in several areas of Upper Guinea. The presidential vote is often divided between ethnic lines” the report of the US State Department states.

However, in 2010, with the victory of Alpha Condé at the end of the first elections considered democratic, the ethnic divisions took on rather worrying proportions. “The two candidates who clashed in the second round of these elections (Condé and Cellou Dalein) come from the two largest communities in the country, respectively Malinke and Fulani – Souare explains – In several cities of Upper Guinea (majority region Malinke) , the Fulani had been hunted, abused, others also killed during the post-election crisis. Since then, reconciliation between these two ethnic groups has been slow to take shape”.

Mamadou Hassimiou Souare

Even after the local elections in February, also won by Condé, there were accusations of a large electoral fraud, leading to the escalation of violence last February. “Regarding the latest events that have driven the reaction of HRW, it must be said that there was a feeling of witch hunt for the Fulani community (which constitute the majority of the opposition and therefore are the main target of reprisals, ed ), which lives mainly in the municipality of Ratoma. During the demonstrations organized by the opposition, several young people were killed by the police in Ratoma, while several other demonstrations held in Kaloum (in the center of Conakry) took place without registering victims” Souare concluded.

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