Guinea’s fate lays bare greed of foreign mining companies in the Sahel : Peoples Dispatch

Guineans gather in the streets of Conakry after the September 2021 coup. Photo: Xinhua

On October 20, 2022, in Guinea, a demonstration organized by the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) took place. The protesters required the ruling military government (the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, or CNRD) released political detainees and sought to establish a framework for a return to civilian rule. They encountered violent security forces and, in the Guinean capital, Conakry, at least five persons were injured and three died gunshot wounds. The main violence took place in the commune of Conakry, Ratoma, one of the poorer neighborhoods of the city.

In September 2021, the CNRD, LEDs by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, reversed the government of Alpha Condé, in power for more than a decade and steeped in corruption. In 2020, President Alpha Condé’s son, Alpha Mohamed Condé, and his defense minister, Mohamed Diané, were charged with corruption in a complaint that the Collective for the Transition in Guinea (CTG) filed with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint alleges that these men received bribes from an international consortium in exchange for the rights to mine bauxite near the town of Boké.

Boké, in northwest Guinea, is the epicenter of the country’s bauxite mining. Guinea has the largest bauxite reserves in the world (valued 7.4 billion metric tons) and is the second largest producer (after Australia) of bauxite, an essential mineral for aluminium. All mining in Guinea is controlled by multinationals, such as Alcoa (United States), China Hongqiao and Rio Tinto Alcan (British-Australian), which operate in association with Guinean state entities.

When Colonel Doumbouya’s CNRD took power, one of the main issues was the control of bauxite revenues. In April 2022, Doumbouya brought together the big mining companies and told them that by the end of May they had to provide a roadmap for the creation of bauxite refineries in Guinea or else leave the country. Doumbouya said, “Despite the mining boom in the bauxite sector, it is clear that the expected revenues are below expectations. We can no longer continue this fool’s game which perpetuates great inequalities” between Guinea and international companies. The deadline has been extended until Juneand requests for cooperation or departure from the ultimatum are in progress.

the CNRD of Doumbouya in Guinea, As the military governments of Burkina Faso and mali, came to power amid popular sentiment weary of their country’s oligarchies and French domination. Doumbouya 2017 comments in Paris reflect this latter sentiment. He said that the French soldiers who come to Guinea “underestimate the human and intellectual capacities of Africans… They have haughty attitudes and think of themselves as the settler who knows everything, who masters everything”. This putschist governmentform from an elite force created by Alpha Condé to fight terrorism – captured the frustrations of the population, but is unable to build a viable program to emerge from the country’s dependence on foreign mining companies . In the meantime, protests for a return to democracy are unlikely to be suppressed.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is editor and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a non-resident principal investigator at Chongyang Institute of Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written over 20 books, including darkest nations and The poorest nations. His latest books are Struggle makes us human: learning from movements for socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the Fragility of American Power.