Guinea Government Needs to “radically change”, Vatican-based Cardinal Says

Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect-emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship, in Rome on Nov. 25, 2014. / Paul Badde.

The West African Republic of Guinea that is currently under military leadership following a coup earlier this month needs to “radically change”, a Vatican-based Cardinal has said in a recent letter.

In the letter circulated September 17, Robert Cardinal Sarah, a native of Guinea, says the recovery and development being sought by the military behind the ouster of President Alpha Condé “can never see the light of day, if you do not radically change the atmosphere and environment of the Guinean government.”

“Our country needs a new generation of political leaders who love their country and their fellow citizens and join forces for the peace, unity and development of Guineans, instead of inciting them to hate and kill each other,” Cardinal Sarah says in his letter addressed to the leadership of the military, the National Committee of Reconciliation and Development or CNRD.

Addressing himself to CNRD officials, the Cardinal says, “For the good of Guinea, work with all your energy to renew the political class. Do not allow political leaders to abuse our people and manipulate them according to their selfish interests.”

On September 5, mutinous soldiers in Guinea detained President Condé after hours of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace in the country’s capital, Conakry. The military leadership then announced on state television that the government had been dissolved.


Col Mamady Doumbouya who led the coup and reportedly anointed himself as the leader of the West African nation told ministers who served in the deposed President Condé's government that there would be no witch-hunt against former officials.

“Announcing the coup on 5 September, the 41-year-old former French legionnaire said the army had little choice but to seize power because of the rampant corruption, disregard for human rights and economic mismanagement under the 83-year-old President Alpha Condé,” BBC reported.

Col Doumbouya was quoted promising to form a "union" government saying, "A consultation will be launched to set down the broad parameters of the transition, and then a government of national union will be established to steer the transition."

Following the September 5 coup, the Economic Community of West African Nations (ECOWAS) suspended Guinea on September 8; two days later, the African Union (AU) did the same. The United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) joined countries such as the U.S. and France in condemning the coup and calling for the deposed President’s release, according to a media report.

On September 17, the leadership of ECOWAS met Col. Doumbouya in Conakry in an attempt to mount pressure to secure the release of President Condé.

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In a statement following the meeting, the military leaders have been quoted as saying, “We will not yield to any pressure. Conde is and will remain in Guinea.”

In his four-page letter dated September 13, Cardinal Sarah blames the challenges in the West African country on leaders’ politics of negative ethnicity.

“Guinean political leaders who have pitted ethnic groups and regions against each other and divided Guineans into political parties to set them against each other should stop this diabolical practice that is paralyzing and destroying the country,” the 76-year-old Cardinal says.

The Cardinal who retired in February as the Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments urges CNRD officials to “use your intelligence and your capacity for objective analysis of our history, our mentalities and our numerous errors.”

“Be extremely severe towards the military who would like to take advantage of the accession to power by the army to enrich themselves at the expense of the people,” Cardinal Sarah cautions.


He adds that for more than fifty years, “Guinea has been inexorably descending into the depths of underdevelopment and endemic misery, and the people of Guinea have only suffered disappointment after disappointment.”

“Corruption, financial mismanagement, a total lack of moral and ethical discipline, mediocrity and chronic incompetence are causing our nation to languish in misery and social decay,” the Cardinal who served as Archbishop of Conakry since December 1979 bemoans.

“Today you have created the conditions for the country to question the path it has followed until now, which has not brought the happiness that Guineans were hoping for.” he further says, and continues, “The page has turned blank again. Guineans can no longer make mistakes. The good words you have spoken must be transformed into concrete actions to build a new Guinea.”

The military leaders “will need a lot of truth and courage, heroism and determination to sweep away all the inveterate predators of our country, corrupt and incompetent, who accompanied the governments of Sekou Toure, Lansana Conté, Moussa Dadis Camara and Alpha Condé, and who consider themselves to be inescapable and irremovable elements,” the Guinean Cardinal says.

He urges the military leaders to “resist with firmness, wisdom and intelligence the pressures of those whose only concern is to see political processes implemented as quickly as possible for their selfish interests, and to the detriment of the Guinean people.”

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Before considering presidential elections, the Cardinal further calls on the military leaders to “first lay the foundations of a solid economy, of a united society, supportive and capable of development through work.”

He also calls upon Guineans who have acquired high qualifications and professional skills in international structures “to agree to join hands, forgetting their ethnic or regional origins, and to make all the necessary sacrifices in order to pull Guinea out of the economic catastrophe and social fractures.”

“I implore the people of Guinea to radically change their mentality and habits and to get to work,” the Cardinal who served in Vatican departments since 2001 says, and adds, “I ask Guineans to refuse to be put in the street to demonstrate and to incite each other to kill.”

“No government, no head of state, no political leader will bring you happiness on a golden platter, without your real work and your firm determination to get out of material and moral misery,” Cardinal Sarah underscores.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.