Guinea at a Crossroads

:
Opportunities for a More Robust Civil Society

Kalie Sillah & Charles Kojo VanDyck

WacSeries Vol. 1 Num 4

January 2010

WacSeries Vol. 1 Num 4, Guinea at a Crossroads: Opportunities for a More Robust Civil Society Kalie Sillah and Charles Kojo VanDyck

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About WacSeries WacSeries is a quarterly publication of the West Africa Civil Society Institute. Its objective is to emphasise the contribution of civil society organisations (CSOs) to the promotion of democracy, good governance and the socio-economic development of West Africa, and to create in-depth debates on issues of interest to civil society. The series covers all the areas of intervention of CSOs in the sub region. To subscribe, please send an email titled “subscription WacSeries” to info@wacsi.org. Please complete the short questionnaire at the end to share your views on this edition of WacSeries. About WACSI The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) was created by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to reinforce the capacities of civil society in the region. The Institute was established to bridge the institutional and operational gaps within civil society. Vision: To strengthen civil society organisations as strategic partners for the promotion of democracy, good governance and national development in the sub region. Mission: The objective of the Institute is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of CSOs in the formulation of policies, the implementation and promotion of democratic values and principles in West Africa. The role of WACSI is to serve as a resource centre for training, research, experience sharing and political dialogue for CSOs in West Africa. The Institute makes its plea through policy dialogue to discuss current issues affecting West African States. Reference documents are regularly published by the Institute and distributed to political leaders. www.wacsi.org About OSIWA The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) was created in December 2000 as part of the world network of 32 autonomous foundations founded and supported by George Soros. These non-profit-making foundations share in the commitment to work for an “open society”. Based on the principle that no one has monopoly of the truth, an open society recognises the different points of view and always remains open to improvement. In practice, open societies are characterised by the priority of law, democracy, respect of diversity and human rights, liberalisation of markets, information to the people and the dynamism of civil society. www.osiwa.org
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS Kalie Sillah is a Sierra Leonean researcher who has lived and worked in Guinea. He has an intellectual and operational interest in Early Warning Systems and Conflict Prevention, Post conflict Peacebuilding, Community Development and Transitional Justice. He is a PhD candidate at the Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, where he also completed his MSc in Development Practices. His area of research interests include “criteria for measuring performance in external-led post-conflict reintegration intervention’’ and “triangular conflict management; managing cross border violence in the Mano River Basin Countries using traditional methods”. Sillah joined the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) as a Lead Researcher for the Transitional Justice Research Project titled “Popular Perception of Transitional Justice Experience and the Rise of Truth and Reconciliation Model in Africa”. Since the completion of the 18-month research project, Mr. Sillah has written various research papers, including: ‘’Democracy as a Pathway to Peace and Human Security in Ghana’’ and “Criteria for measuring performance of Post Conflict Reintegration Intervention’’ for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). Charles Kojo VanDyck is the Capacity Building Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He has experience in designing and implementing targeted training courses to build the institutional and technical capacity of civil society organisations in West Africa. He has been involved in developing strategic partnerships and collaborations between civil society, government and the private sector. Also, he has expertise in designing indigenous and context specific learning resources (manuals, modules, toolkits, handbooks and resource packs) for a cross section of civilian actors in West Africa. He holds a Master of Development Management from the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

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LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS AU ECOWAS CBOs CNDD CNTG CSOs MDDR NGOs OIF PT REFAMP REFMAP USTG African Union Economic Community of West African States Community Based Organisations National Council for Democracy and Development Confederation of Guinean Workers Civil Society Organisations Mouvement Dadis Doit Rester Non Governmental Organisations International Organisation for the French-Speaking World Post and Telecommunications Réseau des Femmes Africaines Ministres et Parlementaires Réseau des Femmes du Fleuve Mano pour la Paix Guinean Workers Union

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1. INTRODUCTION The economic, social and political crisis in Guinea is a source of concern for the whole of West Africa. The Guinean people are caught between hope for a new era after years of misrule and fear of how the military leaders may conduct themselves. Meanwhile, “the mood on the street is hardening against the junta”, says Richard Moncrieff, International Crisis Group’s (ICG) West Africa Project Director. “Guineans are desperate for democratic change and an end to economic misery, while security forces are ready to use lethal force to remain in control. More trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to find a sustainable solution to the problem”1. The military junta took control of the country hours after President Conté’s death on 23 December 2008 and has tightened its grip on power. The junta leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, and his group of mid-ranking officers of the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), have shown little sign of moving towards elections by the end of 2009, as they had promised on seizing power. Rather, they have devised strategies to consolidate their grip on power by replacing high ranking government personnel with persons loyal to their government. This edition of WACSERIES will highlight the historical and political dynamics of the Conte and Dadis regimes and the consequences of their actions which have led to the current political crisis. Also, this monograph will interrogate the factors that have contributed to weaken civil society in contemporary times, in comparison to factors that contributed to the attainment of self-rule in Guinea. Civil society has become stronger in the years after colonialism but much will depend on the outcome of the democratic election due in the first quarter of 2010. Any attempt to appreciate the nature of civil society in Guinea should emanate from a larger understanding of the historical context of their emergence and their relationship with the state. The objective of this approach is to better situate the governance realities of post-colonial Guinea. In addition, the monograph provides an in-depth assessment of the social basis of traditional and informal associative relationships strongly embedded in the Guinean polity. This assessment is made in order to determine the neutrality of civil society from the state, and how the state has contributed to weakening its institutional structures and policy influencing capabilities. In light of this, this edition will also address issues of a struggling civil society sector and how it can be strengthened to contribute to the transition process and democratic governance in Guinea.
1

See full crisis report, at http://www.crisisgroup.org

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2. BACKGROUND The Republic of Guinea is located in West Africa and shares borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The French claimed the region as a Protectorate in 1849 and called it Rivière du Sud. In 1891 the Protectorate was rechristened French Guinea as it became part of the French West African Empire. Guinea wrestled independence from France in 1958 under a charismatic former trade unionist, Sekou Touré, who declared defiantly, ‘We, for our part, have a first and indispensable need, that of our dignity. Now, there is no dignity without freedom…We prefer freedom in poverty to riches in slavery.’ In the event, however, Guineans soon learnt that poverty was no condition for freedom or human dignity. The French reaction to this act of defiance was perplexingly brutal: they withdrew immediately from the country, leaving behind a population that was over 90 per cent illiterate, with only three university graduates.2 Newly independent Ghana loaned Guinea a handy £10 million and Eastern Bloc states rushed in to help. But the ravages of the French were such that only sustained assistance could make any difference; there was even talk that the new nation would not survive its first anniversary. It did, but at the cost of both freedom and wealth. Touré imposed an autocratic regime which banned all opposition, made his Democratic Party of Guinea the dominant factor in the country, directing, in his own words, ‘the life of the nation; the political, judicial, administrative, economic and technical’ aspects of Guinea. He died in 1984, and Army Chief Lansana Conté took over the impoverished state, and initially tried to liberalize both the politics and the economy. However corruption grew in all sectors, and his rule became only marginally less autocratic that his predecessor’s. In 1993, Conte oversaw the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections, which was perceived to be massively rigged; and in 1996, the President, now old and ailing, crushed an army pay mutiny. Lansana Conté was re-elected President in 1998 and again in 2003, though the polls were marred by irregularities. History repeated itself in December 2008 when Captain Moussa Dadis Camara led a military coup following the death of President Conté. After seizing power, he suspended the constitution and any political and union activity. Camara has since promised a return to democratic rule but his resolve to run for presidency shows that, much like his predecessors, he plans to hold onto power indefinitely. He has steadily consolidated his grip on power despite widespread opposition.

2

See Lansana Gberie, Destabilising Guinea (Partnership Africa Canada, 2001)

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In September 2009, soldiers apparently on the orders of Camara massacred 157 people at a mass protest organised by the opposition. This event attracted global condemnation. ECOWAS threatened sanctions, and France, the former colonial power, announced the suspension of military and other cooperation. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, described the Guinean regime as “vile” and “criminal”. Clinton called for “appropriate actions” against Camara’s junta, which she said “cannot remain in power.”3 Following this bloodshed, on October 20 2009, the Network of African Women’s Ministers and Parliamentarians of Guinea (Réseau des Femmes Africaines Ministres et Parlementaires de Guinée, REFAMP-GUINEE), and the Mano River Women’s Network for Peace (Réseau des Femmes du Fleuve Mano pour la Paix, REFMAP) as well as other women’s organisations issued a declaration to condemn the violent atrocities perpetrated against civilians especially women and children. Tracing Authoritarian Rule – The Touré Regime Guinea’s bold decision to defy France and opt for immediate independence resulted from several years of Ahmed Sékou Touré’s spearheading of grassroots political mobilisation. The movement he eventually led was a uniquely progressive civic movement that sprung from the grassroots to challenge and defeat France in a crucial referendum to decide the destiny of the country. The struggle was pioneered by trade unions and numerous informal associations including educated elites, women’s associations and leaders of religious organisations. They were actively involved in various protests against the colonial state. During that period, many voluntary associations became openly political. 4 Mass movements mobilised with a unified voice to fight against the colonial administration. Ahmed Sékou Touré’s “We prefer dignity in poverty to riches in slavery"5 became a popular slogan that catalysed liberation struggles across the continent to a new crescendo in the late 1950s and 60s. Touré adopted a socialist style of governance that repressed civilian and political activists through various restrictive authoritarian measures. He declared the country a one party state and suppressed the freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement – leading millions of civil society members and political activists into exile.6 State driven allegations were concocted and selectively imposed on those suspected of having the intent to support mass mobilisation or political activism against the government. There were numerous disappearances, public executions and imprisonment without trial of civil society and political actors.

3

Adam Nossiter, “US Envoy Protests Violence in Guinea,” New York Times, 7 October 2009

4
5

Smith, Anthony D. (1987) State and Nation in the Third World: The Western State and African Nationalism; New York: St. Martin's Press Camara, Soriba, S. (1956) La Guinée sans la France (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale Des Sciences Politiques, 1976), 116. 6 Gray Cowan, L. (1962) “Guinea,” in African One-Party States, ed. Gwendolen M. Carter New York: Cornell University Press. WacSeries Vol. 1 Num 4, Guinea at a Crossroads: Opportunities for a More Robust Civil Society Kalie Sillah and Charles Kojo VanDyck

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Touré's primary allies in the region were President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Modibo Keita of Mali. After Nkrumah was overthrown in a 1966 coup, Touré offered him refuge in Guinea and made him co-president. As a leader of the Pan-Africanist movement, Toure consistently spoke against colonial powers, and befriended leaders from the African Diaspora such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, to whom he offered asylum. Meanwhile, there were unhealthy power struggles between Sékou Touré and the educated elite in Guinea. This struggle spilled over into post-independence governance.7 Touré's increasing suspicion that local and international actors were plotting to overthrow him led him to arrest large numbers of suspected political opponents and imprison them in camps, such as the notorious Camp Boiro National Guard Barracks. Despite his work as a leader of Guinea’s trade union movement, Secretary-General of the Guinean RDA (Rassemblement Démocratique Africain), and Deputy Mayor of Conakry8, the educated elites continued to argue that Sékou Touré had neither the right nor the capacity to rule Guinea because of his level of education and lack of experience. The Western-educated Guineans characterised Sékou Touré as a low class citizen, calling him disparaging names like illiterate or a semi-illiterate with a sixth-grade education.9 Consequently, as his policies continued to fail, Sékou Touré filled the vacuum with centralised rule and social tyranny. By the time of his death in March 1984, life expectancy in Guinea dropped to 40 years, private business had nearly evaporated and the per capita GDP dropped to US $290.00 from US $200010. The Legacy of the Iron Fist – The Conté Regime Lansana Conté’s arrival onto the Guinean political landscape marked the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s political history. There were high expectations and hopes that Guinea had finally gotten the opportunity to establish viable democractic institutions. The jubilation that followed the bloodless coup was short-lived as Lansana Conté began transforming himself into a dictator under the cloak of a quasi democracy. During Conté's 24 year rule, poor governance and the brutality of the security forces drove the country to near-anarchy. The consequences were general misery, poverty, oppression and deprivation of the average Guinean whose quest for freedom dwindled away.

Johnson, R.W. (1970) “Sekou Touré and the Guinean Revolution,” African Affairs, vol. 69, no. 277 (Oct. 1970), 357-358; Kaba, L (1977), “Guinean Politics: a Critical Historical Overview,” Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 15, no. 1 33. 9Professor Elezabeth Schmidt, The Ghana-Guinea Legacy; Paper presented to the Conference on “Black Liberation and the Spirit of ‘57” Binghamton University November 2-3, 2007. http://www.binghamton.edu/fbc/schmidt.pdf
7 8 10

Available at http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/cm/africana/sekou.htm (accessed 14 September, 2009)

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Ironically, although Guinea is blessed with one of Africa’s richest soils and a seemingly endless supply of water, fish and forest produce, its citizen’s rank among the poorest in the world and living standards have continued to fall11. However, the populace were generally incapacitated from confronting the authoritarian government. The government was bankrupt, the result of systematic corruption over recent years that earned Guinea a ranking as the second most corrupt country in the world. 12 Those in position of power stole money meant to fund projects and development to satisfy their e. The country languished in poverty and failed to provide basic services, such as electricity and portable water, in its capital and major cities. The over 10 million people who suffered under the yoke of oppression for 50 years under French colonization, and then for 50 more under dictatorship, stood up for what they believed in and did whatever they could to bring an end to a kleptocracy, risking their lives and those of their families13. The outcome was indeed a radical quest for political transformation spearheaded by the Trade Unions, which mobilised the entire populace to defy President Conté’s policies and actions. The general strike actions that took place in March and June 2006 and then January and February 2007 made a significant political impact. A platform for dialogue was created with broad-based stakeholder participation. This initiative was further strengthened by a two-day conference organised by the trade union movement creating an avenue for intense debate and reflection regarding the consolidation of democracy in the country. The participants at the conference, which comprised of representatives from neighbouring countries and international agencies, expressed their admiration for the Guinean Trade Unions and civil society’s determination to preserve peace, democracy and social justice in Guinea. Guinea’s current woes emanated from the rule of President Conté who left a country with divided political parties and civil-society groups creating a vacuum that has enabled the military to seize power14.

Available at; http://www.ifes.org/features.html?title=Guinean%20Civil%20Society,%20Unions%20Prompt%20Political%20Change; Consulted on October 29, 2009. 12 source: Transparency International study, 2006
11

Quoted from an essay written by Chris Kirchgasler, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea from 2004-06, Available at: http://blackstarjournal.blogspot.com/2007/02/situation-in-guinea-guest-essay.html
13

Quoted from an interview with Richard Moncrieff, the West Africa Project Director for International Crisis Group, Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2009/10/richard-moncrieff-guinea.html
14

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3. THE POST CONTE ERA- GUINEA AT A CROSSROADS There were speculations and concerns regarding who would succeed Lansana Conte as his health continued to deteriorate. President Lansana Conte's death spelt the end of years of misrule in Guinea. When he was alive, few Guineans had any hope of their lives improving in what is a mineral rich country but as the military took over, Guinea faced an uncertain future. The president had relied increasingly on the military for support as the population grew angrier with the fact that his government was barely functioning and the economy was in tatters. The clearest indication of this was the military response to the nationwide strike and demonstrations in early 2007. More than 150 demonstrators were shot dead and martial law was declared. Many analysts had predicted that the military would take over at the end of Conte's rule the army was increasingly showing signs that it was in charge. These concerns became a reality by the sudden announcement of the death of President Conté and the appointment of Aboubacar Somparé, the President of the National Assembly, as the interim Head of State on 23 December 2008. According to the Guinean Constitution, Aboubakar Somparé, the President of the National Assembly, had the responsibility to lead the interim government and organise legislative and presidential elections. Political parties and civil society groups have argued that the constitution was so manipulated under Conté that it could not provide a way out of the crisis he left behind. This is evident as the constitutional transition was swiftly intercepted by a military coup by the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil National de la Démocratie et du Development, CNDD), led by Captain Mousa Dadis Camara. The CNDD immediately suspended the Constitution and all political activities as a strategy to consolidate its grip on power. The CNDD A significant number of CNDD members met in the army in 1990, when some, including Dadis Camara, were at the beginning of their military careers, and others were doing their mandatory one-year military service. The group coalesced during the disturbances and mutinies that have characterised the army since 2005. The mutinies were eventually ended through direct negotiations between Dadis Camara and Lansana Conté. However, during the second half of 2008, discipline and respect for rank in the army deteriorated further.

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The exact composition and hierarchy of the CNDD was, however, uncertain until at least 24 hours after Conté’s death. Dadis Camara was quickly able to bring on board other parts of the military. In particular, he won over the presidential guard (Bataillon autonome de securité présidentielle, BASP), by offering a high position in the junta to the senior officer, Colonel Fodéba Touré. However, the absence of Colonel Sékouba Konaté, later named number three in the junta, from the initial CNDD roster broadcast on the radio on 23 December is indicative of the tense negotiations that preceded publication of the definitive list. The CNDD rests on an uneasy balance of power between its four most powerful members. Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, now self-proclaimed leader, is from the Guerza, one of the indigenous ethnic groups in the south-east that are frequently referred to as the Forestier ethnic family. Lieutenant Claude Pivi, also a Forestier from the south-east, but from the Toma ethnic group, is the CNDD’s enforcer. The junta characterises his ministerial-rank responsibility for presidential security as a way of keeping him from extensive contact with the population. His presence at the heart of power and close relations with Dadis Camara should be of serious concern to civil society and the international community. General “Toto” Camara, like former President Conté a Soussou from the south west, is the most senior soldier in the junta, but it is unlikely that he was party to the putchists’ plans until late in the day. He is known to have fallen out with Conté in April 2004 over an alleged coup plot involving former Prime Minister Sidya Touré. Appointed Defence Attaché at the Washington embassy in late 2007, he was brought back to Conakry in November 2008 and made head of the army. On 23 December, he provided the link between the emerging junta and the presidential family, almost certainly helping to negotiate its safety, and between the junta and the officers based in the Almamy Samoury Touré camp in central Conakry. He thereby earned himself a place as number two in the junta. The junta’s number three, Colonel Sékouba Konaté, worked, like Dadis Camara, in the logistics wing of the army and is also from the BATA. A Malinké whose family origins are in the north east, he was based in Macenta in the south east. In late 2008, senior officers brought him back to Conakry to balance Pivi’s growing power. Both Konaté and Pivi have combat experience from the Liberian border war of 2000-2001. The CNDD took over with unexpected ease and has not faced any significant challenge from within the armed forces. In justifying the military takeover, the CNDD prosecuted former politicians and State officials for the misuse of state funds, general corruption, and lack of structure to combat drug trafficking. These amongst others were reasons espoused to be responsible for plunging the country into endemic poverty and social fragmentation throughout the 24 years of Lansana Conté’s regime. Ironically, the coup d’etat used the same method the late President Lansana Conté used to access political power in Guinea.

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Dadis Camara was embraced at the early stage of the coup by ordinary Guineans on the premise that he had come to liberate and redeem the country from the decay of Lansana Conté’s authoritarian regime. The junta was welcomed as a sign of change. Somparé was perceived as a direct continuation of Conté’s rule, having been a key figure in his regime, and even in that of Sékou Touré before him. The constitutional path was also rejected by Guinean political parties and civil society groups on the basis that as the mandate of the National Assembly had expired in December 2007; its president had no right to take over as Head of State. Conté left a legacy of abusive security forces, a collapsed economy and lack of trust among a divided civil society and quarrelsome political parties. Guineans saw the succession to power of President Moussa Dadis Camara to power, as an era that will salvage them from the conspicuous economic misery and decade-long political disarray. Despite the promises made to urgently restore constitutional order by the end of 2009, many actors doubt his genuineness to carry out these intentions. These concerns stem from the lack of a clear roadmap and consensus on how to conduct legislative and presidential elections. Guinea remains suspended from the regional organisations (African Union, Economic Community of West African States and the International Organisation for the French-Speaking World). Currently, there is no assurance that Camara’s junta will honour promises of organising legislative and presidential elections in the shortest possible time. The army's decision to dissolve parliament and the constitution was generally welcomed by Guineans in anticipation that it would bring peace. While Guineans are desperate for a break from the chaotic rule, there are concerns over possible in-fighting to fill the power vacuum. Most observers believe that to maintain national sovereignty, consolidate peace and win back the confidence of Guineans, the junta must drop any plans to contest the elections in any form. It should handover to a civilian coalition government that includes representation from the Forces Vives, the umbrella group of opposition parties and civil society and accept the offer by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mediate talks on its exit from power. The key now is whether the army and the politicians can agree on a way forward and whether they will be willing to actively involve civil society in the process. Any power struggle would be extremely dangerous given the ethnic divisions that exist. Lansana Conte was from the Soussou ethnic group which makes up 10% of the population. While the Soussou have benefited during the past 25 years of his rule, some fear a possible struggle for supremacy between the two largest ethnic groups, the Peul and the Malinke.

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Rival cliques within the presidential circle have been fighting to preserve their political and financial interests for some years by maintaining the status quo. Those competing for power include businessmen, senior army figures and the president's wives. 15 The future of Guinea is also of great concern in the region. After conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa badly needs a dose of peace. The fact that ethnic groups live across the national borders of these countries means any conflict can all too easily become regional. Therefore, “it is urgent to devise an exit strategy for the junta,” says the Crisis Group’s Africa Programme Director, Francois Grignon. “Unless immediate and concerted efforts are made by the Forces Vives and the international community to wrest the transition process away from the military, further violence threatens Guinea and then its neighbours, which are just beginning to recover from years of civil war”, notes the International Crisis Group16. 4. CIVIL SOCIETY IN GUINEA CSOs are a vital part of assuring that democracy in Africa truly becomes deeply rooted. Democracy is not just a matter of voting; it must involve open debate on policies, vigilance on actions, public accountability, widespread human rights and insistence on the rule of law. Achieving these attributes of democracy almost always requires a lot of internal and external pressure, and it is in this context that civil society is particularly needed now 17. Often, literature and academic discourse have viewed the concept of civil society as a Western socio-political ideology18. However this approach does not fully explain the realities of non-Western societies19. Misunderstandings often occur when Western notions and norms are used to define civil society in Africa. Of the plethora of sociological and political definitions of civil society by both western and non-western scholars20, an ideal conceptual clarification of the typography of civil society found in Guinea was defined by a western author. According to political scientist David Held, “civil society retains a distinctive character to the extent that it is made up of areas of social life—the domestic world, the economic sphere, cultural activities and political interaction--which are organised by private or voluntary arrangements between individuals and groups outside the direct control of the state.21”

15
16

Available at, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7798079.stm?ad=1 See full Crisis Group report at: http://www.crisisgroup.org 17 Opening Statement by K. Y. Amoako, OAU-Civil Society Conference on 11 June 2001. See full document at: http://www.uneca.org/eca_resources/speeches/amoako/2001/061101speech_oau_civil_society_conference.htm 18 Harbeson, John W. (1994); “Civil Society and Political Renaissance in Africa”, in Civil Society and the State in Africa eds. John W. Harbeson, Donald Rothchild, and Naomi Chazan; Boulder: Lynne Rienner 19 Orji, N. (2009) Civil Society, Democracy and Good Governance in Africa «Civil Society, Democracy and Good Governance in Africa» CEU Political Science Journal (CEU Political Science Journal), issue: 01 / 2009, pages: 76101, on www.ceeol.com. 20 See Ibid, Nelson Kasfir, “The Conventional Notion of Civil Society: A Critique”, in Civil Society and Democracy in Africa ed. Kasfir, N. (1998) London: Frank Cass. 21 David Held, Models of Democracy (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1987), p. 281. WacSeries Vol. 1 Num 4, Guinea at a Crossroads: Opportunities for a More Robust Civil Society Kalie Sillah and Charles Kojo VanDyck

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This definition has diverse elements that are common to civil society particularly in Guinea. The definition encompasses concepts such as “political interaction” “cultural activities’’ “voluntary arrangement’’ “outside the direct control of the state’’, all of which collectively describe the wide range of associational groups found in Guinea. Civil society in Guinea tends to take the form of an active associational life with strong social, traditional and religious roots. High expectations have led to a proliferation of uncoordinated demands and proposals for reform, but if civil society groups and political parties are to play a constructive role in the transition, they need to overcome their historical differences and concentrate on the priorities of the next ten months. However, contemporary civil society in Guinea consists of comparatively modern associations and civic institutions with an informal traditional character. Some of these groups include: professional associations, occupational bodies, student and youth groups, labour unions, religious associations, women's organisations, cooperatives or self-help associations, as well as those that deal with contemporary democratic challenges such as human rights issues and good governance which are mostly pioneered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs). Thus far, civil society in Guinea has managed to survive difficult historical epochs. In the September 1958 plebiscite, Guinea was the only territory to reject the constitution of the Fifth French Republic. This caused immediate severance of political and economic ties with France. During this historical period, civic movements were in the form of popular resistance groups against the colonial administration. However, during the reign of Sekou Toure civil society groups in Guinea radically shifted towards a popular civic movement against his regime to foster the promotion of democratic governance and the rule of law. Throughout this period, civil society actors were victims of state and non-state repression. The persistent state sponsored harassment, intimidation, and violence contributed to the worsening conditions under which civil society organisations operated. This led to thousands of civil society members being exiled, imprisoned without trial or even murdered. The 1990’s witnessed civil society in Guinea crystallise around powerful Trade Unions. The Union-led movement was able to unite Guinea’s previously weak and fractured civil society because Guineans perceive it as more legitimate than the political opposition. The strikes in March and June 2006 and again in January 2007 were organised by the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) and the Guinean Workers Union (USTG), two formerly rival unions that united in 2005 to protest 30 percent inflation, tripling fuel prices and worsening standards of living for ordinary Guineans. Following the 2006 strikes, opposition political parties and other civil society members remarked that if they had been consulted by the unions beforehand they could have contributed to the process. Consequently, in 2007, two non-governmental organisations, the National Council of Civil Society Organisations, an umbrella group for NGOs, and the Civic Alliance, a relatively new grouping with branches nationwide, coordinated nationwide strikes with the unions.
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Guinea's unions are perceived to be symbolically important because of the key role they played in ending colonisation in Guinea and installing the country's first postindependence president, former union leader Sékou Touré. The Patron-Client Nature of Civil Society Guinea is a very traditional society. Informal functional arrangements are strongly embedded in the fabric of the society – with strong beliefs common among many Guineans. Guineans are also strongly fatalistic - the belief that man has no control over his destiny, as such whatsoever happens to him is the will of God. It is more strongly believed in Guinea that benefits derived from the subjugation of leaders (elders, local chiefs and authority) are a ‘reciprocal blessing.’22 This is because leaders are exercising the roles and responsibilities bestowed upon them by God. It is from these combined beliefs that the worst form of patron-client relationships is firmly rooted and negatively influencing the country’s political system. This weakens the role of civil society in changing perceptions and the lives of Guineans. The in-built patriarchal patron-client networks in Guinea stem from the premise that both patrons and clients will gain spiritual and material benefits if one achieves political power. It was not surprising to hear President Lansana Conté saying, “Guineans must accept my rule as the will of God” 23. In modern times, politicians take advantage of these beliefs to manipulate the populace for their own selfish reasons. This is why in Guinea senior government officers often create patron-client networks with civil society to consolidate their grip on power. This practice in many respects has contributed to the silent observer’s role being played by civil society particularly as resources trickle down through patronage networks. Successive governments, both civilian and military regimes installed clientele policies that rewarded loyal supporters with opportunities while the majority remained marginalised and impoverished. Throughout Conté’s presidency, senior government officials were not accountable for their actions, therefore the government was perceived as being insensitive to citizen’s needs, interests and expectations. However, some anti-corruption crusaders endeavoured pointing out corrupt practices; some of whom were beneficiaries of the patron-client system.
22 ‘Reciprocal Blessing’’ is a term coined to explain a divine reward for being submissive to a leader. 23 Quoted from an essay written by Chris Kirchgasler, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea from 2004-06, Available at: http://blackstarjournal.blogspot.com/2007/02/situation-in-guinea-guest-essay.html

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The organisational capacity of many associations weakened and fell prey to State manipulation because of their dependence on government funds. Many professionals, intellectuals and civil society organisations expressed difficulties in maintaining neutrality. Further, the majority of working classes were dependent on government for employment, while civil society autonomy had become extremely questionable. The overwhelming degree of corrupt practices did not only weaken the capacity of civil society, but made the administrative machinery of the state inefficient. In addition, professionals and intellectuals in Guinea were more preoccupied with daily survival, thus limiting institutions like the judiciary, academia, security and anti-corruption institutions from helping to expose corrupt practices in the country. For instance, politicians, judges and even religious leaders were dependent on government for economic survival. They argued that they had no alternative survival option other than to benefit from patron-client networks. The Roles of Civil Society in Guinea However, civil society in Guinea historically drew strong support from the United Nations Resolution 1514 that permits colonial states the opportunity to exercise selfdetermination.24 Thus, this became the core political philosophy and ideal for emancipation. More than 50 years after independence, self-governance in itself is only selfexpressive and not synonymous to self-determination. Resistance movements against colonial domination characterised by civic engagement at the grass roots level had already started gaining ground prior to the adoption of the United Nations Resolution permitting self-rule.25 By then, the less organised local movements against the colonial authorities began to create a pathway to engender the rise of structured nationalist movements. As members of trade unions became increasingly conscious of the common socio-economic strangulation imposed by the colonial administration, self-mobilised broad-based associational groups began to champion the same cause, hence, the acceleration in the quest for self-definition, self-expression and self-determination.

24Declaration

on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People: Adopted by the UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), 14 December 1960. Schmidt, E (2005); Mobilising the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea 1939-1958; Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
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The quest for self-rule, democracy and good governance has been the fundamental motivating factor behind the emergence and proliferation of civil society institutions in Guinea. However, debates on their roles and responsibilities have assumed greater attention in contemporary times due to the complex governance challenges facing the country. There has also been significant discourse on their potential contribution towards the entire political transformation of the country. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have grown in number and vitality since 1990, when the current national constitution was formulated which paved the way for multiparty democracy. This new dispensation created a revitalised civil society that advocated for liberal constitutionalism, institutional reforms, human rights protection, social and administrative justice, gender mainstreaming and good governance. Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the driving forces and interest of CSOs in Guinea was complete transformation to political pluralism and democratic governance. This engagement in many respects goes beyond the definitional meaning of the differences between pre-independence and earlier post-independence associational civil society. Interestingly, the emergence of CSOs coincided with the increased unconstitutional competition for state resources by various political actors. This situation combined with economic difficulties was a result of the structural adjustment policy and led to the politicisation of civil society who benefitted from elite and political patronage. Thus, civil society found it difficult to be neutral, impartial and independent from the State. Also, they became over-dependent on donor organisations and state funding. Nonetheless, civil society has been the pioneering force behind significant political change in Guinea. There has been a proliferation of ideas and propositions, from both recognised bodies and less well-known associations in towns and villages, where the country’s political future has been the subject of intense debate. This is, in the longer term, a welcome sign of the underlying strength of civil society. Improved coherence will require better internal democracy in civil society groups and political parties, to discourage dissatisfied members from breaking away and adding to the existing proliferation of entities. Significantly, various sociological schools of thought, including the groundbreaking study of African history by Walter Rodney “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” confirms that associational life in African societies preceded the inception of the colonial administration.26 Civil Society - State Relationships Civil society’s relationship with the state has been weak since independence in 1958, as a result of the widespread human rights violations propagated by state institutions; including the security apparatus and judiciary. Moreover, the lack of national consensus to enhance civilian-military relations in Guinea has undermined contemporary political discourse in the absence of national consensus to sustain continuous dialogue.
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Rodney, W (1973) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, London

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The need to pay special attention to the balance of power from military to civilian rule under current circumstances is increasingly stirring intense debate about the role of government, political parties and civil society. There is a widespread belief that state security will ultimately depend on the military junta remaining neutral throughout the political transition. However, civil society is very sceptical about the willingness of the military junta and the security institutions to genuinely maintain neutrality and transfer power to a democratically elected government. Most non-state actors strongly argue that unless the security institutions are reformed and their capacities enhanced, there will not be a sustainable transfer of power without the security apparatus monopolising the political situation. A cross section of Guineans remain pessimistic about CNDD and President Mousa Dadis Camara’s political will to transfer power to a civilian government, despite the promises he has made. It also appears to be very difficult to curtail President Dadis Camara’s political ambition should he present himself as a candidate for the Presidency. This is because of the conspicuous absence of strong political party cohesion, and the incapacity of political party leaders to rally broad-based grassroots coalitions to challenge the military government. This weakness has continued to undermine the potentials of the collective force of civil society which is desperately needed at this historic time. The Contribution of Civil Society to the Transition Process Domestic legal and political environments have a profound impact on the existence and practice of non-state actors27. Civil society in Guinea has steadily become vibrant since the union strikes that called for Lansana Conté’s departure in March and June 2006, as well as in January and February 2007. Civil society has helped to expand popular participation through continuous mobilisation of various associational groups towards the establishment of democratic governance since the death of President Conté. Also, civil society organisations have been raising awareness of the protection of citizens against potential predatory behaviour of the military regime, whilst performing monitoring and accountability roles. Despite the enormous efforts to foster democratic transition in Guinea, their neutrality remains questionable taking into consideration the history of patron-client relationships among politicians and senior government officials. They are increasingly raising awareness on collective action which is important in this political climate – with the overarching aim of searching for best practices and strategies for tackling some of the key bottlenecks within the framework of a peaceful democratic transition in Guinea. These are practical realities linked to committing the CNDD Government to commence the implementation of recommendations within the previously articulated roadmap.

27

Ahmed, S and Potter, D (2006); NGOs in International Politics: Kumarian Press Inc, Bloomfield

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Civil society remains committed to the political transformation agenda. One of the most significant and positive contributions to the transition process is the collective rallying cry to the international community and regional organisations to intervene with decisive sanctions to rid the country of the military junta. In addition, civil society organisations are playing a crucial role in ensuring that the transformative agenda and the political transition are constantly monitored and information is shared with regional and international stakeholders. Whilst such important contributions to the quest for political change is worth acknowledging, there is no substantial evidence of consensus between civil society, political parties and the military junta around the advancement of the democratic agenda in Guinea. This creates a great sense of doubt as the junta continues to strengthen its grip on power. Furthermore, civil society has started playing a leading role in relation to the work of the newly established electoral commission. Partnerships have been developed with the commission to monitor and consult widely with communities on various overarching sociopolitical issues including voters’ registration and the screening of political parties. This relationship of cooperation is evident in the continued formal and informal alliance between the trade unions and the other associational groups in the promotion of a peaceful and credible election. The challenge is how to maintain the delicate balance between encouraging the junta to leave power peacefully whilst maintaining a neutral position during the presidential and legislative elections. Despite the absence of an established unified overarching reform movement, vast networks of CSOs continue to attract global attention to help establish sustainable peace, development and democratic governance. This is a reflection of a new political culture which is gradually re-awakening the conscience of the citizens to understand their franchise rights and responsibilities within the political space. For instance, the massive resurgence of demands for political accountability and reform are a clear indicator of progress in the nurturing of democracy, peace and stability in the sub-region. Whilst opportunities exist for progress, there is also a significant fear of political instability if a constructive platform is not created for continuous facilitative and transformative civilmilitary dialogue. Many Guineans continue to display commitment to the movement in order to oust the military junta. Amidst low levels of trust and tolerance, state and non-state actors remain divided along ethnic, ideological, geographical and political party lines. For instance, the newly emerging groups like the Mouvement Dadis Doit Rester (MDDR) calling for President Dadis Camara to stay in power are increasingly undermining civil society’s commitment to ensure that the junta restores constitutional order and creates an enabling environment for international and regional actors to express opinions and challenge the unconstitutional regime.

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Opportunities for Civil Society Engagement in the Transition Process The death of President Conté has paved a new direction for CSOs across the country to vigorously engage in numerous interconnected policy issues including human rights, judicial and security sector reforms. His death has created a positive political atmosphere that is conducive for civil society to contribute to the building of strong and neutral civic institutions. Civil society is expected to shift the scope of engagement from being loose, informal groups to a more structured and organised entities. To a larger extent, the groups are now highly motivated and gradually confident to debate subjects that were not openly discussed during the past regimes. Despite civil society’s growing capacity and resource constraints, it is increasingly projecting its preferences into the policy process. A coalition of CSOs to give a push towards policy advocacy will give an impetus to a successful transition process. Keck and Sikking28 postulate that advocacy networks including CSOs, can engage in four kinds of politics: information politics, in which networks provide and re-interpret information on issues of concern; leverage politics, in which networks attempt to gain moral or material leverage over more powerful actors; accountability politics, in which networks try to compel states to live up to norms to which they have formally agreed. Recently, Guinea's trade unions embarked on a nationwide strike which began on October 12, 2009 to mourn the more than 150 demonstrators who were shot dead by soldiers on September 28, for protesting the possible candidacy of junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara for the presidency in the January 2010 general election. The country's youth has also called for a five day hunger strike aimed at encouraging an agreement between all parties to resolve Guinea's crisis. These courageous developments among Guinea’s civil society for peace and democracy, in response to the despicable political situation in which Guineans find themselves, must be supported by immediate intervention of the international community, regional bodies, and civil society organisations in West Africa and Africa generally29. The pending elections provide the opportunity for civil society to gain a much-needed space within the framework of the democratically elected government. This allows civil society an opportunity to play its traditional role as a neutral political watchdog of governance and social justice on behalf of the citizenry.

28

Available at: www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5960&l=1 Available at; http://www.mediafound.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=452

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The political parties and civil society in Guinea need to be given the opportunity to prove what they can do. For that to happen, the military needs to be contained. One option is that the junta should be encouraged to withdraw their political ambitions for a civilian transition government to be established, whilst an international intervention secures the civilian government30. There is an assumption that civil society can persuade the military government to relinquish power and create a platform for full socio-political transformation. If the transition is well managed as anticipated, a new democratic structure will be created, new constitution written and a new breed of political actors encouraged to contribute to nation building. This will create a roadmap for the facilitation of the ‘brain drain to brain gain’ by encouraging Guineans living in Diaspora to return home and invest in national building. 5. CONCLUSION Democratic governance involves the building up of legitimate, capable and responsive institutions. For many historical reasons, Guinea inherited weak institutions. This adds the complexity to Guinea’s journey towards the consolidation of democracy. The seriousness of the situation is further highlighted by the fear that instability in Guinea might create a negative contagious and multiplier effect that will threaten the stability of its neighbouring Mano River Basin countries, namely; Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. It is clear from this that civil society has long existed in Guinea even before independence. However, this sector became dormant during Sékou Touré’s 26 years of centralised and authoritarian governance. Civil Society only became prominent during Lansana Conté’s administration, re-emerging as massive grassroots civic movements which promoted multi-party politics and democratic values. Evidently, Guinea like many African states has been deprived of the visionary leaders and progressive national policies required to strengthen democratic governance and the rule of law. This also explains that civil-political patronage has been another contributing factor for the steady decline of state institutions since independence. The two successive authoritarian regimes (Sékou Touré and Lansana Conté) strangulated and silenced the natural enthusiasm for associational life and active engagement as avenues for rectifying social injustice, or holding public officials accountable. The time has come for the Guinean State to invest in institutional reform, in civil society and in the empowerment of Guinean citizenry. It is imperative that decision makers invest in bottom-up strategies that will empower Guineans to hold their leaders accountable and compel them to listen to the voices of the deprived segments of society. This is an essential strategy that will help overcome the challenges of entrenching democratic governance in Guinea.
Quoted from an interview with Richard Moncrieff, the West Africa project director for International Crisis Group, Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2009/10/richard-moncrieff-guinea.html
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6. RECOMMENDATIONS Enhancing civil society’s capacities to engage with the State to promote a peaceful democratic transition requires addressing a number of challenges. Therefore, this monograph provides the following strategic recommendations for strengthening civil engagement and collaboration with the State. The recommendations outlined below are directed at Decision-Makers, Civil Society and Regional and International Policy Actors. Decision-Makers  Constructive dialogue must be facilitated among diverse state and non-state actors, including all political parties. The aim will be the building up of trust and promoting national consensus to collectively exploit all windows of opportunity for a peaceful political transition; Building democratic institutions is critical to a democratic transition. Therefore, institutional, security and judicial sector reforms must be instituted to rid Guinea of its bureaucracy, create political stability and strengthen judicial processes. These reforms will deepen and consolidate good governance before, during and after the transitional period; There is a need to develop more effective integrative approaches to promote peace and stability, as well as empowering and cooperating with community stakeholders including religious leaders, elders, women and youth; Stakeholders and institutions must endeavour to identify innovative ways of building inclusive political spaces that embrace all ethnic groups.

Civil Society   Broad-based political and civil society actors and groups must have the opportunity to contribute to political dialogue in order to strengthen the democratic process; Political parties and civil society must promote working consultations and engagement with state institutions and regional organisations.

Regional and International Policy Actors  Regional Institutions must help to facilitate a transformative dialogue process to promote and enhance government, civil society and political parties’ collaboration aimed at increasing the effectiveness of national level partnerships;

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The international community must collaborate with local stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies that will pay special attention to issues most crucial to the advancement of a peaceful democratic transition; The international and regional community must contribute to ensuring that the Military Junta conducts free, fair and credible national elections as soon as practicable.

Joint Recommendations  An effective partnership between civil society and the government must be ensured so that the transitional efforts to achieve a peaceful political transformation would be realised through collaborative interventions; and Opportunities for networking and communication between civil society actors and policy makers must be facilitated as a basis to promote effective collaboration between civil society organisations and the State.

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REFERENCES Camara, Soriba, S. (1956) La Guinée sans la France (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale Des Sciences Politiques, 1976), 116. David Held, (1987) Models of Democracy; Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press Gray Cowan, L. (1962) “Guinea,” in African One-Party States, ed. Gwendolen M. Carter New York: Cornell University Press. Harbeson, John W. (1994); “Civil Society and Political Renaissance in Africa”, in Civil Society and the State in Africa eds. John W. Harbeson, Donald Rothchild, and Naomi Chazan; Boulder: Lynne Rienner Johnson, R.W. (1970) “Sekou Touré and the Guinean Revolution,” African Affairs, vol. 69, no. 277 (Oct. 1970), 357-358; Kaba, L (1977), “Guinean Politics: a Critical Historical Overview,” Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 15, no. 1 33. Mamdani, M (2007), Political Violence and State Formation in Post-Colonial Africa; International Development Centre; Working Paper Series; Paper No.1 October 2007. McGowan, P (2005). “Coups and Conflict in West Africa, 1955-2004: Part I, Theoretical Perspectives.” Armed Forces & Society, vol. 32 http://afs.sagepub.com/cgi/Contént/abstract/32/1/5 Nelson Kasfir (1998), “The Conventional Notion of Civil Society: A Critique”, in Civil Society and Democracy in Africa ed. Kasfir, N. London: Frank Cass. Orji, N. (2009) Civil Society, Democracy and Good Governance in Africa «Civil Society, Democracy and Good Governance in Africa» CEU Political Science Journal (CEU Political Science Journal), issue: 01 / 2009, pages: 76101, on www.ceeol.com. Professor Elizabeth Schmidt, The Ghana-Guinea Legacy; Paper presented to the Conference on “Black Liberation and the Spirit of ‘57” Binghamton University November 2-3, 2007. http://www.binghamton.edu/fbc/schmidt.pdf Rodney, W. (1973) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, London Rotimi S, (2007) “Nigeria’s Muddled Elections,” Journal of Democracy 18 (October 2007): 95–110.

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Sawyer, A. (2003) Violent Conflicts and Governance Challenges in West Africa: The Case of the Mano River Basin Area; Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Indianapolis: Indiana University Schmidt, E (2005); Mobilising the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea 1939-1958; Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Smith, Anthony D. (1987) State and Nation in the Third World: The Western State and African Nationalism; New York: St. Martin's Press. Souaré Issaka K. (2009) Explaining the December 2008 Military Coup d’État in Guinea; Issue 1; ACCORD

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FEEDBACK FROM READERS Please give us your insights on this edition of the WACSERIES. 1. 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Please send your questions, suggestions and comments to info@wacsi.org West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) No. 202, Yiyiwa Street P.O. Box AT 1956 Achimota, Accra Ghana Tel: +233 21 778 917/918 Fax: +233 217 64 727 Website: http://www.wacsi.org

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