President Alpha Conde has again shown the power of the incumbency in his successful third- term bid. Conde has been sworn in to continue his presidential duties. The incumbent who polled 59 per cent of valid votes has controversially defeated his main rival Cellou Dalen D’Jallo who, reports say, is under house arrest. The arrest of the opposition leader, Mr D’Jallo came days after he unilaterally declared himself winner of the elections prior to official announcement.
The declaration, Sierra Leoneans say, had the potential to incite unrest in the young democratic state of Guinea. Now that Alpha Conde is in for another term of six years, Most Sierra Leoneans have continued to pose questions about the fate of Sierra Leone in the coming 2023 elections.
Reports widely hold that Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh bears a hand in the just concluded elections in Guinea so that the main contender, Mr D’Jallo wins the elections.
If the Guinea elections went as planned, similar influence on the Sierra Leone elections would have been expected from Guinea. The aim of Sierras Leone’s Vice President, reports say, is to ensure that the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party continues in power in 2023.
Many have argued that had Mr D’Jallo won the elections, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party would have built strong hopes of maintaining the grip on power. The argument has been premised on allegations that Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh secretly provided support to Mr D’Jallo for an election victory in Guinea.
Since the contrary has occurred as the result is counter-productive, SLPP hopes have been dashed, and Sierra Leone’s Vice President now wrestles with strong allegations of recruiting mercenaries to destabilise Guinea in the elections period.
The supposed destabilisation of the West African nation in the campaign period was to ensure that Mr D’Jallo had an edge over the other former aspirants.
At the time of the allegations, Vice President Jalloh could neither be reached for comments nor a response made to the Guinean Government. Guinean Government did not treat the reports or intelligence of the VP’s meddling into their elections with a pinch of salt.
Guinean Government responded swiftly and decisively by sealing off its borders with Sierra Leone. Guinean security forces were deployed with heavy artillery to stop a break into their country by soldiers of fortune.
As borders remain locked, trade and commerce between Guinea and Sierra Leone became badly affected, but Sierra Leone is at the wrong end. Sierra Leonean traders, to a large extent, depend on Guinea for the purchase of products on reasonable prices.
The closure of borders on the Guinean side brought terrible effect to Sierra Leone’s economy since Sierra Leonean traders were not permitted to go into Guinea, and conduct business transactions as usual.
The borders remain blocked to date, and it’s seal off is a measure to consolidate security in Guinea for effective and efficient governance.
Since the stand-off started between the two countries, no government official in Sierra Leone has approached the Guinean Government for a reopening of borders for an easy and smooth trade.
Apart from the economic effect on Sierra Leone, a remote diplomatic row has already ensued between the two countries. The cosy and rosy relationship the two countries hitherto enjoyed is gradually turning sour.
President Conde has successfully run for two terms, and has administered twice, and has started his third term in the midst of political controversies.
Guinea quite recently has seen an uneasy calm whose genesis could be traced to the third term manipulations and machinations of the Conde regime.
The political crisis that followed the manipulations led to few deaths into which signs of an investigation are virtually non-existent. President Conde is a man who does not want to go, and equally does not want to see his main contender, D’Jallo at the helm of state governance.
Democracy is still in its formative period in Guinea as the country, for years, has seen an uninterrupted chronology of military leaderships and dictatorships since the demise of President Sekou Toure.
The demise of President Toure saw late General Lansana Conteh at the helm of Guinean politics for a considerable period.
President Conteh too remained in power till his death few years back which sparked an ephemeral political instability in the West African state. Captain Musa Dadis Kamara came at the centre of governance after the death of Late President Conteh.
His regime was not destined to last long as he too was toppled, and his toppling marked a new dawn in Guinea’s political order. By embracing democracy, despite its weaknesses, Guinea joined the world’s community of free nations.
But, the young democratic state, by any stretch of the imagination, is straying beyond one of the universally recognised parametres of democracy which calls for a two-term limit.
In modern democratic states, presidential power must smoothly and peacefully change hands after a one-term or at least two-term mandate.
To some countries in Africa, democracy is still an evolving concept from which Guinea would have learned a lot of lessons had the authorities allowed it to gain a foothold.
The diplomatic row between Guinea and Sierra Leone is not the first. The occupation of of Yenga in Kailahun district in eastern Sierra Leone by Guinean troops was also another potent diplomatic conflict that would definitely find itself a proud place in the country’s annals.
At the height of Yenga’s occupation, a strained relationship existed between the two Mano River Union Countries.
However, the astute leadership of former President Koroma who saw the need to diplomatically engage his Guinean counterpart made Sierra Leone a safe country. Guinean Government, after the engagement of former President Koroma, peacefully withdrew troops from Yenga and Kailahun district formally peacefully reclaimed its lost territory.
Guinea has always been a strategic partner to Sierra Leone and the two countries share a lot in common. Guinea hosts a large number of Sierra Leoneans and vice versa with the two countries most popularly known for inter-marriages.
At the peak of Sierra Leone’s civil war, Guinea received one of the largest number of Sierra Leonean refugees, and also contributed troops to halt the onslaught of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
Sierra Leone’s RUF is a formidable rebel group known to have carried out one of the bloodiest guerrilla warfares on the continent. Guinean troops came under the umbrella of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group known as ECOMOG.
Guinea lost most of her personnel in a Sierra Leonean war that lasted for ten years. The country’s intervention into the armed conflict made a difference, a difference that led to the end of the war in 2002. The peace and stability Sierra Leone enjoys today could be attributed partly to the Guinean sacrifices yesterday.
Guinea is on record to have deployed and protected strategic places in Sierra Leone notably Portloko district which hosts the country’s only international airport.