Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Guinea

Delivered in Plenary - 15th January 2009

Mr President

President Lansana Conté was the archetypal African strong man, a corrupt dictator who ruled the people of Guinea with an iron fist. In fact, Guinea has never enjoyed true democracy in its half-century of independence.

The death of Mr Conté offered an opportunity for Guinea to turn the page. But any hopes of transition to genuine democracy were extinguished by the military coup. Predictably, the African Union’s response to the coup has been lamentably lacklustre. The AU cannot expect to be taken seriously internationally while it continues to prevaricate and procrastinate. Why should we in the West go to such lengths to address this issue when African governments appear so indifferent?

The EU should consider invoking the provisions of the Cotonou Agreement relating to sanctions. Captain Camara and the coup leaders need to understand that the EU expects certain basic standards of governance in return for a trade-and-aid relationship. Guinea’s only path to prosperity is through democratic, civilian government.