Guinea: an example of the failure of neocolonialism

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Lansana Conte is a neocolonial puppet who, like Charles Taylor of Liberia, is no longer in his master’s favor

President Lansana Conte will soon be celebrating his 71st birthday this year. This year marks 22 years since he came into power in a 1984 coup following the death of Ahmed Sekou Toure.

Conte’s arrival into power not only ended the regime of Sekou Toure, but it halted an ongoing anti-imperialist struggle being fought by Sekou Toure against French imperialism.

Sekou Toure’s significance in the history of the peoples struggle against colonial domination in West Africa became a factor that French imperialism had to contend with during the late 1950s and 60s. It was during this period that he stood against Charles de Gaulle’s 1958 referendum that aimed at transforming “French West Africa” into nominal independent states whose economy and politics would be under the direct control of French imperialism.

France’s dependence on its colonial subjects in West Africa was made obvious after the defeat of France during the second imperialist war and the subsequent displacement of the imperialist administration headed by Charles de Gaulle in England. De Gaulle relied on African soldiers from the colonial territories to reinstate his government.

As a consequence of the growing anti-colonial resistance waged by Africans and other colonized people following the end of the second imperialist war, France like all other imperialist nations found it impossible to contain the people’s struggle for self-determination.

But since 1800, the French had put in place a colonial policy that divided the Africans into subjects and citizens under a colonial detachment stationed in Dakar, Senegal. Africans in the so-called communes in Senegal were considered as French citizens enjoying some amount of “privileges” as opposed to Africans in areas like Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the rest of the territories under direct French colonial rule.

This policy of division and exclusion was not only meant to facilitate the extraction of resources from the partitioned African States for the benefit of the colonial administration, but it was also used to deter the development of any anti-colonial struggle organized across colonial borders that would overthrow the colonial administration.

As a consequence, the so-called African elites in Dakar and the other communes in Senegal considered themselves French citizens and refused to unite with the anti-colonial aspirations of the suffering African masses in other areas because most of them, including Blaize Diagne — the force who convinced the French government to allow the Pan African Conference of 1919 to be held in France — saw the struggle to overthrow French colonialism as a direct threat to the positions they held in the colonial administration in Paris.

“Conte has only been able to keep himself in power through the support of the various imperialist nations whose interests he is serving. ”

De Gaulle’s proposal was that the African territories under direct French rule should vote to become members of a “French Community of nations” that would have France supposedly undertaking “economic development” in the said territories. This really meant that the plan would allow France undeniable access to the economy and resources of the Africans.

Sekou Toure was the only African leader in “French West Africa” to vote against the proposal arguing that he preferred to be poor in liberty than to be wealthy in slavery. This forced the French to withdraw from Guinea, and they took with them all office furniture including telephone wiring they were using in Conakry.

So Sekou Toure was faced with the challenge of maintaining the independence and unity of the African masses in Guinea in the face of imperialist machinations to discredit and overthrow his administration.

An imperialist attempt lead by the Portuguese to overthrow his government in 1975 failed and deepened the people’s unity against imperialism. He attempted to adopt a socialist system in his effort to build the economy of Guinea and unite the people in the struggle against the forces of imperialism that were working to overthrow him.

Conte’s coup marked the beginning of a neocolonial puppet system for Guinea-Conakry

Sekou Toure’s death in 1984 and the arrival of Lansana Conte in Guinea’s political scene was to mark the end of the Guinean government’s struggle against imperialism. Conte is an army general who worked under Sekou, but he became undetermined to follow the foundation that was being built by Sekou. His assumption of office was welcomed by France and the United States who described it as “the beginning of a new era in the history of Guinea.”

Indeed, Guinea under Conte represented “a new era” that changed the course of the people’s struggle against imperialism. Like all the successive governments that emerged in Africa after the 1960s, Conte’s administration and his two decades of governance have represented misery, poverty, oppression and deprivation of the African masses whose quest for freedom has grown more obvious than it ever was.

From 1984 to present, Conte has been working for the interests of France, the United States and the various imperialist nations who currently control the economy and have absolute access to all the resources in Guinea.

Conte has only been able to keep himself in power through the support of the various imperialist nations whose interests he is serving. The United States and France developed an army and security apparatus in Guinea trained and equipped to suppress the people’s struggle for freedom.

of Guinea to produce alumina for sale to the global aluminum industry. GAC has its headquarters in New York and administrative offices in London, Montreal and Conakry.

Another neocolonialist loses his usefulness to U.S. and French imperialism

Interestingly, in this desperate effort to accomplish his insatiable desires, Conte has found himself entangled between the scramble of the various imperialist nations to control the country’s resources. The move with Japanese imperialists has placed him in direct confrontation with the United States and France.

Since 2004, U.S. and French imperialism have backed protests by opposition parties headed by imperialist-trained elites to bring down Conte and restore their interests in Guinea. They persuaded the European Union and other so-called western “donor countries” to cut-off “all aid” to the government of Guinea.

Professor Alpha Conde, a former lecturer at Sorbonne University in Paris, together with former World Bank Consultant Ba Mamadou and former IMF employee Sidya Toure have formed an opposition coalition supported and backed by both France and the United States to challenge the government of Conte. The opposition coalition’s only hope of success is to manipulate the plight of the suffering African masses in guinea and exploit their conditions to their own advantage.

However, this is proving to be a fruitless strategy because none of the so-called opposition coalition leaders want to step-down and surrender to a single leader.

Conte, aware that France and the United States wants to remove him from power, has amended the constitution to allow him to remain president for life. Amidst ill health and a failed neocolonial bureaucracy, Conte continues to work to transform the state into a “royal possession” controlled by his family after his death.

Conte uses the security apparatus to suppress the determination of the African masses in Guinea to defeat imperialism. But with the people’s growing determination for change, his reliance on the military and police to secure him is becoming shaky.

Last year, a coup attempt staged by some junior officers nearly left him dead. In response, Conte sacked some 2,000 soldiers, including the head of the Guinean armed forces, General Mamadou Bailo Diallo.

A total of about 1,872 military personnel who included four colonels, 10 lieutenant-colonels, 39 majors and 93 captains and 1,727non-commissioned officers have been dismissed from the army last December based on Conte‘s fears that they might possibly overthrow his government.

African masses of Guinea-Conakry need the African Socialist International!

With an army whose loyalty is increasingly unstable, Conte’s continued presence in Guinea’s political scene is extremely doubtful. A Trade Union strike over low wages and deplorable conditions of service nearly crippled down the government. But the Trade Unions themselves lack the vision and ability to overturn the neocolonial system in Guinea neither will they transform the conditions of the suffering masses in Guinea.

The fact is that Conte’s removal from power will not automatically translate into a viable future for the toiling African masses. What is required is the African working class becoming organized in its own interests in order to guarantee a future for our people in Guinea-Conakry.

The African masses of Guinea-Conakry need the African Socialist International in order to take the struggle in Conakry out of isolation and tie it to an international strategy for the unification and liberation of Africa. We must build the African Socialist International so that we can destroy the neocolonial borders and establish a united and liberated Africa that can control its own resources in Guinea-Conakry and elsewhere in the interests of the African working class and poor peasantry!

One Africa! One Nation!

Touch One, Touch All!

“Build the African Socialist International!”

In 1993, Conte successfully transformed himself into a civilian president through an electoral process organized and staged-managed by the United States and France and became a neo-colonial puppet safeguarding the interests of imperialism in opposition to the general welfare of the African masses in Guinea.

Imperialists are scrambling for Guinea’s resources

Imperialist build-up in Guinea has been ongoing since the death of Sekou Toure, and the primary motivating factors have been the imperialist desire to control the minerals and other resources of the Africans in that country.

Guinea has one of the world’s highest deposits of bauxite, a fine white metallic powder refined into alumina and smelted to become aluminum. The country contains one third of the world’s recoverable bauxite reserves.

This mineral has remained Guinea’s main export and largest source of foreign exchange. But the bauxite mines are not by the African masses in Guinea. They are owned and operated by the United States, Canada and Russia. Three companies — Alcoa in the United States, Alcan of Canada and RusAl of Russia — the largest aluminum companies in the world, control Guinea’s bauxite and iron ore reserves.

Like in most parts of Africa, the mad rush for control of the continent’s resources has even lead to a contest between the imperialist nations themselves. In October 2004, for instance, Japan entered the rush for control of strategic minerals from Guinea.

A Japanese company, Global Alumina Production Corporation (GAPCO), signed a definitive agreement with the government of Guinea to build a US$2 billion alumina refinery in the northwestern mining town of Sangaredi. This agreement allows Japan to have absolute control over the biggest bauxite mining complex in the world, and gives Japan 2.8 million tons of alumina a year. This situation has affected the strategic interest of U.S. imperialism in Guinea.

This Japanese venture, supported by Japan’s Marubeni and Mitsubishi industrial conglomerates, has been described as the largest imperialist project undertaken in West Africa since a consortium of international oil companies led by ExxonMobil opened up a US$3.7 billion project to develop the oilfields of southern Chad last year. That project allowed imperialism to extract oil via a pipeline to the coast of Cameroon.

The United States has been struggling in vain since 2004 to have Lansana Conte cancel the agreement signed between him and the Japanese. As a result, relations between the United States and Lansana Conte have been strained.

The Japanese intrusion seems to have affected Global Alumina Corporation (GAC), a U.S. company that uses the vast bauxite resources


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