Guinea-U.S. relations is much in line with American leadership in Africa, as defined specifically by the U.S Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The current socio-political atmosphere in Guinea puts the country at a favorable position on the international stage and is a work in progress of U.S’s long time partnership with the country. The U.S. established formal diplomatic relations with Guinea right after the country gained independence in 1958 and its mission has since been promoted through 5 agencies of the U.S Government which include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Moreover, Peace Corps volunteers have played an integral role in executing some of the long-term goals of U.S interests in Guinea.
The United States maintained close relations with Guinea prior to 2008, in spite of the fact that the country had been rule by only two men in a period of 50 years. Despite a repressive domestic agenda and his anti-western stance, Touré received assistance from the United States and saw investments from U.S companies interested in the prolific mining sector. Not surprisingly, Cold war politics played a significant role in assuring bilateral relations with the United States. Initially, Touré turned to the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries for technical and economic assistance. Thus, to counter Soviet influence in the region, the U.S. sponsored a peace corps program and provided other types of assistance, primarily through USAID programs and military cooperation.
These forms of U.S aid would continue during the rule of Touré’s successor, Lasana Conté, and even extend as a result of his relatively progressive agenda. While consolidating power after the coup that instated his rule, Conté gradually implemented several progressive reforms and policies, such as privatization of state firms, legalization of multi-party politics and private media broadcasting, in the hopes of promoting the economic liberalization and the democratization of Guinea. As a result, the ruler was rather favorably viewed by the United States government and witnessed a moderate rise in U.S assistance. Particularly, when Conté decided to reinstate elections in the country, the United States government provided financial and technical support despite the ensuing elections being marred by electoral fraud and intimidation. Alas, U.S relations with Guinea would receive a blow following a coup by a military junta (CNDD) after Conté’s death in 2008.
The United States condemned the coup and refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the CNDD. Despite Gen. Camara’s promise to hold presidential in a year’s time, the U.S. suspended all bilateral aid to Guinea at the exception of exception of humanitarian and democracy-promotion assistance, which included primarily USAID programs. Fortunately for Guinea, in less than 2 years, the junta was overthrown and presidential elections were held in 2010 during which Guinea elected its first civilian president, Alpha Condé.
Considered a major step in Guinea’s democratic development, all prior relations with the U.S. were restored and some have even expanded. Guinea continues to receive financial assistance through AGOA benefits and technical support for its military via AFRICOM and the department of defense. Ultimately, U.S. relations with Guinea epitomizes the four pillars of U.S Strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa as the country advances toward democratic consolidation.
The White House. 2012. U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa