Guinea was a part of a succession of African empires until France conquered it in the 1890s and incorporated it into French West Africa. On October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed independence from France. Guinea was ruled by a succession of authoritarian monarchs from independence until the presidential election of 2010.
West African empires and Kingdoms in Guinea
Guinea was on the periphery of the main West African empires of the time. The Ghana Empire is said to be the first of them, which expanded via commerce but eventually collapsed owing to the Almoravids’ hostile influence. Islam initially appeared in the area during this time period.
The Sosso kingdom (12th–13th century) thrived briefly in the vacuum, but the Islamic Manding Mali Empire rose to prominence when Soundiata Kéta defeated Soumangourou Kanté in the semi-historical Battle of Kirina in c. 1235. Mansa (Emperors) governed the Mali Empire, the most notable of them was Kankou Moussa, who performed a memorable hajj to Mecca in 1324. The Mali Empire started to collapse shortly after his rule and was eventually replaced by tributary kingdoms in the 15th century.
The Mali Empire was the most successful, and the Songhai Empire grew in prominence from about 1460, ultimately surpassing the Mali Empire in area and riches. It thrived until Askia Daoud’s death in 1582, when a civil war erupted for succession. Three years later, in the Battle of Tondibi, the weakened empire succumbed to Moroccan invaders. However, the Moroccans were unable to successfully govern the kingdom, and it was divided into many tiny kingdoms.
Various kingdoms flourished in what is now Guinea after the collapse of the main West African empires. From 1735 until 1898, Fulani Muslims moved to Futa Jallon in Central Guinea, where they formed an Islamic kingdom with a codified constitution and rotating monarchs. The Wassoulou or Wassulu empire was a short-lived kingdom headed by Samori Toure in what is now upper Guinea and southern Mali between 1878 and 1888. (Wassoulou). Before being captured by the French, it relocated to the Ivory Coast. Mufasa died in the nation of Guinea.
In the 16th century, European merchants brought the slave trade to Guinea’s coastal area. Slavery had long been a part of society, but when slaves were transported to labor in the triangle trade, the extent of slavery grew.
Guinea’s colonial era started in the mid-nineteenth century, when French forces invaded the country. The troops of Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the Ouassoulou kingdom and leader of Malinké origin, were defeated in 1898, giving France control of what is now Guinea and the surrounding regions.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, France negotiated Guinea’s current borders with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and Liberia. Under French rule, the nation was divided into the Territory of Guinea, which was governed by a governor general based in Dakar. Lieutenant governors were in charge of each colony, including Guinea.
Independence and post-colonial rule (1958-2008)
Due to political instability and shortcomings in dealing with its colonies, particularly Indochina and Algeria, the French Fourth Republic fell in 1958. The French people backed the establishment of a Fifth Republic, and French President Charles de Gaulle made it plain on August 8, 1958, that France’s colonies would have to choose between greater autonomy in a new French Community or instant independence in a vote on September 28, 1958. The other colonies selected the former, but Guinea voted decisively for independence, led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, whose Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in territorial elections in 1957. The French soon departed, and Guinea declared itself a sovereign and independent republic on October 2, 1958, with Sékou Touré as president.
Guinea rapidly allied itself with the Soviet Union after France’s departure and embraced communist policies. Guinea, on the other hand, leaned toward a Chinese form of socialism, and the partnership was short-lived. Despite this, capitalist nations such as the United States continued to provide assistance and investment to the country. Even the relationship with France improved; commerce grew following the election of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing as French president, and the two nations exchanged official visits.
Touré proclaimed the PDG to be the sole legitimate party in 1960. The government and the PDG merged for the following 24 years. Touré was uncontested for four seven-year terms as president, and voters were given a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly every five years. Touré soon became a polarizing leader, advocating a hybrid African Socialism at home and Pan-Africanism abroad, and his administration grew intolerant of criticism, imprisoning hundreds and suffocating the press.
During this period, the Guinean government nationalized territory, deposed French-appointed and traditional leaders, and severed relations with the French government and businesses. Guinea’s economic condition became as uncertain as its diplomatic stance, vacillating between support for the Soviet Union and (by the late 1970s) support for the United States. Touré’s government attacked actual and imagined opponents, forcing thousands of political opponents into exile, alleging schemes and conspiracies against him at home and abroad.
In 1970, expatriate Guinean opposition troops aided Portuguese soldiers from neighboring Portuguese Guinea in Operation Green Sea, an incursion into Guinea. The Portuguese military sought to murder or arrest Sekou Toure for his support of the PAIGC, a guerrilla group operating in Portuguese Guinea, among other things. The Portuguese troops withdrew after accomplishing the majority of their objectives after many days of intense combat. The frequency of internal arrests and executions rose during Sékou Touré’s reign.
A monument commemorating the military triumph against the Portuguese attack in 1970. The sole goal that the Portuguese assault failed to achieve was the capture of Ahmed Sékou Touré.
Sékou Touré died on March 26, 1984, in the United States following a heart surgery, and was succeeded by Prime Minister Louis Lansana Beavogui, who was to serve as temporary president until fresh elections could be held.
On 3 April 1984, the PDG was set to pick a new leader. That individual would have been the sole contender for president under the constitution. Colonels Lansana Conté and Diarra Traoré, however, took control in a bloodless coup only hours before the conference. Traoré served as prime minister until December, when Conté took over as president.
Conté quickly condemned the previous regime’s human rights record, freed 250 political prisoners, and urged another 200,000 people to return from exile. He also made it clear that he was abandoning socialism, although this did nothing to relieve poverty, and the nation showed no indications of progressing toward democracy.
Conté declared a restoration to civilian government in 1992, with a presidential election in 1993 and parliamentary elections in 1995. (in which his party – the Party of Unity and Progress – won 71 of 114 seats.) Conté’s hold on power remained strong despite his professed devotion to democracy. Alpha Condé, the opposition leader, was imprisoned in September 2001 for threatening national security, but he was released eight months later. Following that, he went into exile in France.
Conté planned and won a referendum to extend the presidential term in 2001, and he began his third term in 2003 when the opposition boycotted the polls. Conté escaped a suspected murder attempt in January 2005 while making a rare public appearance in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. His detractors called him a “weary tyrant” whose demise was inevitable, while his supporters thought he was winning the war against dissidents. Guinea continues to confront significant challenges and, according to Foreign Policy, is on the verge of becoming a failed state.
When insurgents crossed the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2000, Guinea got involved in the instability that had long plagued the rest of West Africa, and it seemed for a while that the nation was on the verge of civil war. Conté claimed that neighboring leaders were envious of Guinea’s natural riches, but these allegations were vehemently rejected. Guinea agreed to agreements with her neighbors to combat the rebels in 2003. Protests against the administration erupted in 2007, culminating in the nomination of a new prime minister.
Conté stayed in power until his death on December 23, 2008, when Moussa Dadis Camara took power in a coup a few hours later, proclaiming himself the leader of a military junta. When the junta ordered its troops to attack protesters who had gathered to oppose Camara’s effort to become president on September 28, 2009, protests against the coup turned violent, and 157 people were murdered. Many foreign countries withdrew their support for the new administration when the troops went on a spree of rape, mutilation, and murder.
Camara was shot by an assistant on December 3, 2009, following a disagreement about the September rampage. Camara visited Morocco for medical treatment. In Camara’s absence, Vice-President (and Defense Minister) Sékouba Konaté traveled back from Lebanon to govern the nation. Camara was transported from Morocco to Burkina Faso on January 12, 2010. Camara, Konaté, and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré met in Ouagadougou on the 13th and 14th of January and issued a formal declaration of twelve principles guaranteeing the restoration of Guinea to civilian government within six months. It was decided that the military would not run in the next elections, and Camara would stay in exile in Guinea. The military junta named Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition administration leading up to elections on January 21, 2010.
The presidential election took place on June 27th, and it was the first free and fair election since the country’s independence in 1958. The two runners-up for the second round were ex-Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his opponent Alpha Condée. The second round of the election, however, was postponed until September 19, 2010, owing to accusations of electoral fraud. On September 22, 2010, the second round was again postponed until October 10. In early October, another postponement was announced, this time until October 24. On November 7th, elections were eventually conducted. The turnout was strong, and the elections went over without a hitch. Alpha Condé, the head of the opposition Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), was proclaimed the victor on November 16, 2010. He said that he will restructure the security sector and examine mining contracts.
An attempted coup was launched against President Condé’s home on the night of July 18, 2011. President Condé postponed parliamentary elections indefinitely in April 2012, claiming the necessity for them to be “open and democratic.”
President Conde’s insistence on employing a South African company, Waymark Infotech, to compile the registered voter list prompted the opposition alliance to withdraw from the election process in mid-February. Political violence occurred in Guinea in late February 2013, when protestors went to the streets to express their worries about the forthcoming May 2013 elections’ transparency. The opposition coalition’s decision to withdraw from the electoral process in protest of the lack of openness in election preparations fuelled the protests. During the demonstrations, nine people were killed and over 220 were wounded, with many of the fatalities and injuries being caused by security forces firing live ammunition at demonstrators.
Inter-ethnic conflicts between the Fula and Malinke peoples erupted as a result of the political violence, with the latter constituting the basis of support for President Condé and the former primarily backing the opposition.
On March 26, 2013, the opposition pulled out of talks with the administration about the impending election on May 12th. The opposition claims that the administration has failed to respect them and has broken any commitments made to them. More demonstrations and violence are anticipated in Guinea’s streets as a result of this.
Ebola virus outbreak
Guinea’s Ministry of Health announced an epidemic of Ebola virus illness on March 25, 2014, according to the World Health Organization. There were 86 cases in the first epidemic, including 59 fatalities. There were 281 instances as of May 28th, including 186 fatalities. Emile Ouamouno, a 2-year-old child from the hamlet of Meliandou, is thought to be the first instance. He became sick on December 2, 2013, and died on December 6, 2013. On September 18, 2014, people in the town of Womey assassinated eight members of an Ebola education and health care team. Guinea has had 3,810 cases and 2,536 fatalities as of November 1, 2015.