President Alpha Conde stated on 22 May that local elections – originally scheduled for March 2014 – will not be held before the presidential elections planned in October 2015. The opposition claims that the postponement of local elections is a manoeuvre by president Conde to use the local authorities, currently all political appointees, to bring in votes on his behalf during this year’s presidential elections.

Impact on country risk

As a result of Conde’s statement, political unrest is set to increase the following months to force concessions before October, yet the ruling ‘Rassemblement du Peuple Guinéen’ (RPG) is unlikely to concede. Political parties in Guinea are ethnically based, which forms a persistent threat to security and political stability. President Conde’s RPG mainly represents the Malinké community, less than one third of the population. Consequently, the ruling RPG realises it is very likely to lose elections as the main opposition represents ethnic-Peul (comprising 40% of the population) and another opposition party ethnic-Soussou (20% of the population). Since 2011, Guinea has been plagued by recurrent conflict between supporters of rival political parties and security forces. Heaps of often violent street protests were held, demanding democratic progress which has been evolving very arduously since the end of half a century of dictatorship in 2010. Today, Guinea is at another turning point, though it is likely to be accompanied by arsons, fighting and disorder once again. Through president Conde’s security forces reshuffles and the appointment of loyalists, he has managed to mitigate coup risks. Nevertheless, should presidential elections be held without conceding to opposition demands and should these eventually be found to be rigged, violence could further escalate and increase the risk of civil war.  Besides political gridlock, the slow response to the Ebola outbreak and weak economic development are expected to cause a GDP contraction of 0.3% in 2015; knowing that before Ebola Guinea was projected to be one of the fastest growers in the world thanks to the coming on stream of huge iron ore endowments.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com