Category Archives: Guinea

Guinea – About to adopt semi-presidentialism? (Update)

Last year, entirely speculatively, I wondered whether Guinea might be a likely candidate for the introduction of semi-presidentialism. Following reports yesterday, I am asking myself the same question again.

In a previous post, I reported that one of the first acts of Moussa Dadis Camara, the leader of the coup that followed the death of President Lansana Conté, was to appoint a new prime minister. In a post prior to that I provided links to the Constitution and constitutional amendments, which showed that, although Guinea had often had a prime minister, this was a purely ad hoc position with no constitutional status. Therefore, Guinea was not semi-presidential. However, given Guinea was, in theory, embarking on a process of transition to democracy it struck me that a new constitution might formalise the position of PM and make the government accountable to the legislature, thus rendering Guinea semi-presidential.

Over the last year the process of transition in Guinea has had its ups and downs. However, following the de facto counter coup against Dadis Camara in December 2009, it appears as if the country is now moving fairly swiftly towards elections and at least the possibility of a transition to democracy.

In that context, Jeune Afrique reports that yesterday the president of so-called Conseil national de transition (National Transition Council) presented the interim president, Sékouba Konaté, with a draft constitution. I have not been able to locate a copy, but there is information that the presidential term will be reduced to five years and that there will a two-term limit. In addition, there are also reports that the document will include reference to the position of prime minister. This is all in the spirit of trying to reduce the power of any future president.

In the absence of the draft text and in the knowledge that amendments might be made to it, it is still difficult to know what sort of system Guinea will adopt. It is also slightly unclear whether the draft, which apparently contains 19 chapters and 162 articles, is actually a new constitution or an amended version of the current constitution. That said, if the figure about the number of articles is correct, then it would seem to correspond to a new constitution entirely. All the same, given the likelihood of a specific reference to the position of prime minister, there are at least slightly firmer grounds for thinking that Guinea may be about to adopt a semi-presidential constitution.

Update: I have just been sent a copy of the proposed Constitution. The role of the PM is outlined very clearly and in a separate section. However, there is no governmental responsibility to the legislature. So, Guinea remains a presidential constitution.

The text is available in French at http://www.guineenews.org/

Guinea – A candidate for semi-presidentialism?

This is a purely speculative post, but it strikes me that Guinea is a likely candidate for the introduction of semi-presidentialism.

The death of President Lansana Conté has precipitated a coup led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. One of the junta’s first acts was to appoint a new prime minister, Kabiné Komara.

Guinea is one of the few countries that has a prime minister who is not responsible to the legislature – meaning, in case of any confusion, that the legislature cannot vote him and the government collectively out of office. There is no provision for a prime minister in the 1990 constitution.

President Conté appointed a PM in 1996, abolished the post in April 2006 and recreated it in January 2007. The office of prime minister was seen as a way of allowing for some sort of power-sharing within the system in the context of social unrest.

Now, assuming that there is any return to democracy and that there is either a new constitution or an amended constitution, then it would be highly likely for Guinea to adopt a French-style model (though, admittedly, it has avoided doing so from the time it was the first French colony to declare independence in 1958), or for the post of PM to be made responsible to the legislature if only as a democratic sop to NGOs and foreign governments. The fact that the junta have appointed a PM so swiftly provides some sort of indication that they are committed to keeping the post in the future.

Unlike the situation in Mauritania, where there is considerable pressure for the junta to return to democracy, similar pressures have not yet been put on the new junta in Guinea. However, when the time comes, it is at least possible that Guinea might be added to the list of countries with semi-presidential constitutions.

Guinea – 1990 constitution and subsequent amendments

One of the first postings on the blog was plea for more information about Guinea’s constitution. According to worldstatesmen.org, Guinea has had a prime minister since 1996. However, the 1990 constitution made no mention of such a post.

In his blog, Constitution en Afrique, Stéphane Bolle has provided links not only to the 1990 constitution, which is available in other places as well, but also (though in French) to amendments that were passed in 1996 and 2001/2002. These confirm that, even though there is a prime minister in Guinea, this is still not a constitutional post. The 1996 reform related to National Assembly’s sessions. The 2001/2002 reforms ensured there were no presidential term limits. However, no mention was made in either of a prime minister and there was no indication that any such post is responsible to the legislature. So, Guinea remains a presidential system.

For the record, Guinea is currently in the middle of an army mutiny. The previous prime minister was sacked by the president at the end of May and a new prime minister has taken office.