Ex-Guinean minister chides African leadership style

Conakry- Guinea (PANA) -- Former Guinean interior minister, Alhassane Conde, Monday said the leadership style of African politicians is core to the proliferation of crisis on the continent.
He said African governments' failure to allow popular participation in decision-making and in matters that affect the destiny of their peoples was a key factor for a crisis-riddled continent.
Conde, a former minister of interior and decentralisation in President Lansana Conte's government, was addressing the opening session of a two-day national consultative meeting of Guinean civil society and media organisations at the Palais de Congres in Conakry.
Now a rights activist, Conde said African leaders have perenially remained more concerned about acquiring wealth and staying in power at the expense of the welfare of the people and the nation.
Suppression of free expression and muzzling of the independent press was commonplace in many African countries as evidence of the dismal performance of their leaders, noted Conde who heads the Reseau PanAfricaine de Decentralisation et de Bonne Governance (REPADEG).
He lamented the difficulties opposition political parties undergo pursuing democratic change, but chided some for being formed on tribal, religious or other trivial lines that negate the collective good concept.
Conde expressed concern over the state of fear prevailing among his compatriots that inhibit free speech because the government has not created the enabling environment for the exercise of that right.
The rights advocate said the independent media can help check the excesses of those in power, but said Guineans were afraid to open private radio stations because they do not have the freedom to do so.
Guinea is the only country among the 16 West African states that has the unenviable record of not having a single private radio station.
Conde, however, lauded the independent print media for "getting strong", being critical of the government and enlightening the people about the functioning of public servants.
Conde noted that Guinean laws and the code of ethics of the mass media were in a clash, thereby limiting the free practice of journalists in upholding the people's right to know about the government and its functionaries.
The former Guinean official said he sympathised with the struggle of Guinean women for their freedoms dwarfed by cultural, religious and political traditions that have sort of enslaved the Guinean woman.
Conde therefore called on the government to institute decentralisation programmes that would "give voice to the people", and empower them through participation in the processes of national growth and development.

17 september 2001 23:55:00

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