March 2, 2007

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, was featured today on a Voice of America (VOA) news segment on the task ahead for the newly-appointed prime minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyaté, who, as Dakar, Senegal-based VOA correspondent Nico Colombant noted, “faces the arduous task of forming a new government, improving basic services, working with an authoritarian president, and placating angry protesters.”

Dr. Pham stated that it was important that longtime President Lansana Conté not undermine the new prime minister as he has done to previous premiers, “otherwise all we have done is pushed off, moved the goal posts a little bit, and, within a few weeks or months, we will be back where we were just a few days ago” when the country was paralyzed by strikes and under martial law.

Dr. Pham also noted that the international community has considerable leverage: “The United States and China, for example, have been involved in training his military forces. The international community is his biggest supporter as far as handing foreign aid. It is also the international community that maintains Guinea’s economy going, especially its governmental sector. Without foreign assistance from the European Union, for example, [which] several months ago released funds that had been held up for a number of years, without that, the Guinean state would not be able to pay its functionaries and more importantly its military, which is the structure that maintains Lansana Conté in power.”

To read a transcript of or to listen to an audio stream from the VOA segment, click here.