“He should be freed and allowed to resume his duties”
–Anton Pisaroglu, Political Consultant
Interviewee: Mr. Anton Pisaroglu, Political Consultant
Interviewer: Atlanta Mahanta, Sr. Multimedia Journalist, THE TIMES OF AFRICA
Q. Mr. Pisaroglu, you are a European political consultant and strategist, that has extensive international experience, including on the African continent. How do you see the current situation in Guinea-Conakry, namely the removal of president Alpha Condé by the military?
A: It is a sad situation and, unfortunately, not that unusual for Africa. Over the last 50-60 years we have witnessed many such cases in various countries, many military coups. And not only in Sub-Saharan Africa but also in the Middle East, in Asia, South America, and even Europe.
I won’t go into details about the history, but it is clear that the fragility of the political institutions is a consequence of widespread poverty and therefore of the constant state of discontent of the majority of people. It is a very long and hard process to reconcile fractured and poor societies and to give people hope that, in time, little by little, things can and will improve.
Q. So, should we expect coups in Africa as long as African countries are developing?
A: Well, there are positive signs as well on the continent. Just last month, in the Zambian presidential election, we saw the incumbent president Lungu being defeated by the opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema and we also saw a peaceful transition of power in that country. So, there is hope.
It is true, though, that the southern part of Africa has better internalized the democratic norms. I would say that we owe this, in large part, to the tremendous influence of Nelson Mandela, a man who embodied a creed so powerful that changed the history and the politics in South Africa – and on the entire continent. It is, therefore, possible to build a democracy with a very difficult history behind, as long as you don’t let the past decide for the future.
Photo Credit: Anton Pisaroglu, Political Consultant and Alpha Condé President of Guinea
Q. Returning to the Republic of Guinea, please share your working experience with president Alpha
A: Yes, together with another Romanian political consultant we met him and we worked for a while with him and his team in 2019 and 2020.
Mr. Condé came across as a calm man, but he was undoubtedly deeply concerned about the problems of his countries and the multiple challenges that this government had to face. And he was a statesman, a man who was known and listened to on the international stage.
Q. But wasn’t the 2020 referendum a controversial one since it allowed president Alpha Condé to run for a third term?
A: Yes, it was controversial from this point of view, but it also allowed for some progressive measures to be promoted, such as banning forced marriage and female genital mutilation or a better representation of women in governmental institutions.
Q. And what was your take on the situation to President Condé at that time?
A: I won’t go into the details of our collaboration, but I will say that we always tried to steer things towards a peaceful outcome. We were very much aware of the potential for political violence in Guinea and we thought that permanent and serious efforts had to be made in order to avoid conflict.
Q. And today, if you were to advise him, what options would you say he has in this unwanted situation?
A: This is beyond my regular work as a political consultant. My work is related to the legal democratic processes, such as elections and referendums. In This situation, this non-negotiated political change, as I see it, calls for international mediators, for people with the experience and credentials to be neutral and respected arbiters.
What I think though is that Mr. Alpha Condé should be freed and he should be allowed to resume his duties as president. And after that Guinea should have a national political conversation about the way forward. There are several options here, including recall elections or new presidential elections, but it would be best for Guinea to solve this problem in a peaceful and democratic manner. Otherwise, the cycle of violence and retribution will never stop.