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/