Isolated and under pressure from the international community, Guinean President Alpha Condé made a limited “magnanimous” gesture towards the opposition on Friday by releasing, under conditions, four members of the UFDG executive board who were arrested and imprisoned in the wake of the disputed presidential election of October 18, 2020 in Guinea. They are Ibrahima Cherif Bah, former Central Bank top official, Ousmane Gaoul Diallo, Abdoulaye Bah and Mamadou Cellou Baldé.
They were released after spending several months in a dismal Conakry prison reserved for the country’s common criminals.
The conditions of their release include, in particular, the prohibition to travel in the countryside without prior authorization from the prison authorities. In addition, they cannot organize political meetings, nor are they allowed to leave Guinean territory, a coercive regime already imposed on their UFDG boss, Cellou Dalein Diallo.
The release of these political prisoners coincides with the visit to Conakry of the Congolese leader and current chairman of the African Union Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo.
Diplomatic sources said that Mr. Tshisekedi Tshilombo was to discuss with his Guinean counterpart the political crisis in Guinea marked by repeated human rights violations and the turmoil in the sub-region, in particular the closure of Guinea’s borders with Senegal and Guinea Bissao. It is expected that the Congolese President would encourage Guinean counterpart to be flexible on these issues int order to break the deadlock.
Historical leader of the opposition turned president, Alpha Condé was once considered a hope for millions of Guineans, the one through whom socio-economic development was to come. But his categorical refusal to undertake reforms and especially his disproportionate ambition to remain in power for life at the end of his two constitutional terms, make him today an outcast on the international scene.
In September this year, the European Union, a key partner of Guinea, is due to consider sanctions to be taken against some twenty officials of the Guinean regime involved in various crimes ranging from the human rights violations to the misappropriation of public funds.
These officials, including the regime’s number 2 man and Defence Minister Mohamed Diané, could see their assets hidden abroad freeze and ban them from traveling to several Schengen countries.
“If such a measure is adopted by the European Union, it would further complicate the situation for Alpha Condé and I believe that the release of these opposition members is a calculated move that he would be willing to listen in order to avoid a deeper isolation of his regime,” said a Abidjan guinean political expert who did not want to be named .