Conversation with Former Guinean Prime Minister H.E. Cellou Dalein Diallo

Amid a number of important African elections slated to take place in 2015, the Republic of Guinea is preparing for both presidential and local elections—the latter repeatedly postponed despite being overdue three years ago. Current President Alpha Condé has announced his intention to seek reelection after ascending to power during the controversial 2010 polls.

On January 27, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center welcomed His Excellency Cellou Dalein Diallo, former Prime Minister of Guinea and leader of the country’s main opposition party, the Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG), for a roundtable discussion on the current economic and political environment in the West African country. After an introduction by Director J. Peter Pham, Diallo discussed challenges to improving governance in Guinea, and how support from the international community could alleviate political and economic tensions in the country, particularly those rising in the run-up to the elections. Diallo won a plurality of 44 percent of the vote in the first round of the 2010 election before the current incumbent, who received just 18 percent, was declared the winner of the runoff, and has announced his intention to run again this year.

The discussion covered Diallo’s concerns about the lack of dialogue and cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties, and the economic effects of mismanagement, corruption, and recently, the Ebola epidemic (the World Bank Group estimates that the country will experience negative economic growth in 2015 as a result of the outbreak). He noted that poverty is increasing and access to basic services, including water and electricity, is decreasing. As a result, Diallo called for economic reforms to make Guinea a more attractive place for the private sector to invest.

In a question and answer session following his prepared remarks, Diallo reiterated the need to “modernize” government in Guinea: to fight corruption, instill a culture of discipline among civil servants, and elect a president who will treat all Guineans fairly, regardless of their familial or political affiliation. He expressed concern over what he called a lack of political will by the current government to ensure free and fair elections, noting that the country’s stability is contingent on transparent 2015 elections.

The former Prime Minister was accompanied by a delegation of UFDG members, including the Honorable Kenda Diallo, Member of the National Assembly of Guinea.