Guinea. Plot, Government Against the Entente and France

Victor D. Du Bois
The Rise of an Opposition to Sékou Touré
“Part III: The Plot Against the Government and the Accusations
Against the Council of the Entente and France”
American Universities Field Staff Reports. West Africa Series
Vol. IX No. 3, (Guinea), March 1966, pp.1-9

 

Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)
Victor David Du Bois (1932-1983)

Throughout the first half of 1965, Conakry was caught up in a maelstrom of rumors. Some of these rumors were to the effect that a conspiracy was actively under way against the regime of President Sékou Touré , while others hinted at the secret formation of a formal opposition to his ruling Parti Démocratique de Guinée (P.D.G.). Credence was lent to these rumors by the fact that the P.D.G.’s much-touted reforms of the loi-cadre of November 8, 1964 1 had produced only negligible results. Meanwhile, the President continued more and more to incur the enmity of his countrymen.

The rumors were verified on October 12, 1965, when a number of foreign embassies in Conakry found, shoved under their doors, documents purportedly written by Mamadou (“Petit”) Touré, a distant cousin of the President and former director of Sonatex, the state trading company for textiles. Among the documents was a letter addressed to the President advising him of the formation of a new political party 2:

Excellency:
Conakry, October 9, 1965
To the President of the Republic of Guinea
c/o The Director-General, Ministry of the Interior
Conakry

In conformity with Articles Nos. 40 to 41 and 47 of the Constitution, we have the honor of informing you that we have created a [political] party named the Parti de l’Unité Nationale de Guinee (P.U.N.G.).
This decision is due to the sectarianism, inequality, and various anachronistic improvisations which now govern the P.D.G.

It [the P.D.G.] no longer fulfills for us the conditions of a party of national unity for various reasons, even though it is the party that is at present in power.

As you yourself have suggested on various occasions, those who were no longer in agreement with the program of the P.D.G. could create their own party . You even added that you would give [such persons] material aid.

It is for this reason that we feel that you will respect the honesty and legitimacy of this decision and will accord it its full value after reading the statutes [of the party], a copy of which we are enclosing.

Respectfully,
For the P.U.N.G.
(signed) Mamadou Touré
B.P. 347, Conakry

The Preamble to the P.U.N.G.’s statutes which accompanied Petit Touré’s letter alluded to the desperate and constantly deteriorating
situation in Guinea and to the unpopularity of the so-called reforms of November 8, 1964, one of which had been to deprive 70 per cent of the people of their membership in the P.D.G. It took the P.D.G. to task for excluding from its ranks the nation’s merchants, even those who had been its loyal militants from the beginning, and it emphasized that in the P.U.N.G. everyone would be welcome. Membership would be open to anyone over the age of seven, irrespective of tribe, region, or profession.

While seconding the P.D.G.’s avowed hostility toward imperialism,
colonialism, and neocolonialism, the Preamble went on to make clear that the P.U.N.G. nevertheless championed private property, free enterprise, economic liberalism, and individual liberties. It stated the party’s unequivocal hostility to what it referred to as dirigisme économique.

Accompanying Petit Touré’s letter to the President and the copy of the new party’s statutes, was a cover letter addressed to the various
embassies in Conakry, requesting that they give maximum diffusion to the news that a new political party had been formed to challenge the P.D.G. Uncertain as to the authenticity of these documents, however, and fearful of jeopardizing their relations with Sékou Touré, none of the embassies complied with this request.

Although Petit Touré addressed his letter to the President on October 9, 1965, and three days later had the P.U.N.G. documents put into the hands of the foreign embassies in Conakry, no mention was made of the incident either in the Guinean press or on the radio for several weeks. At the Fourth Congress of the Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs de Guinée (C.N.T.G.) in mid-October, allusion was made to “the present situation in the interior created by antiparty elements, renegades, and valets of imperialism,” 3 but the union statement did not go into detail. The reticence on the part of Guinea’s leaders to speak about Petit Touré and the P.U.N.G. was in all likelihood due to two things:

  • A wish to maintain as much secrecy as possible about the affair until all the suspected “plotters” had been rounded up
  • A reluctance to make this issue public in view of the impending visit of President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, who was due to arrive on November 1

Thus it was not until November 9, 1965, after Nasser had left, that the news of the so-called “counterrevolutionary plot” was disclosed for the first time in a broadcast over Radio Conakry. Once the party decided to reveal the news of the plot, however, it did so with a maximum of fanfare. On November 15, 1965, Sékou Touré called a special session of the Conseil National de la Révolution (C.N.R.), a group comprising Guinea’s top political and military leaders.

A signboard calling upon Presidents Touré and Houphouët-Boigny to join their efforts to build African unity.
A signboard calling upon Presidents Touré and Houphouët-Boigny to join their efforts to build African unity. (Photo: Information Côte d’Ivoire)

At this meeting, Léon Maka, President of Guinea’s National Assembly, announced that an official of the Ivory Coast named François Kata Kamano had been arrested in connection with the plot. Mr. Maka also accused the Presidents of the Ivory Coast, Niger, and the Upper Volta (Maurice Yaméogo), the Prime Minister of the Congo (Léopoldville) —Moise Tshombé—, and two French ministers of working in collusion with Petit Touré to overthrow the Guinean government:

« It has now been established beyond any doubt that during the month of July 1965, Houphouët-Boigny gathered around him in Paris, on the occasion of the marriage of his son, his henchmen, Hamani Diori, Maurice Yaméogo, Moise Tshombé.…
… It was during the course of this meeting that a plan was drawn up for the third plot against Guinea 4. Contacts were made with Messrs. Triboulet and Jacquinot, both ministers in the French government… 5 An important financial backing was obtained for the execution of this plan… Before this meeting, Houphouët’s spies
had made several trips to our country, during which they studied the reactions of those affected by the loi-cadre of November 8, 1964 and got in touch with numerous traffickers… It was during these trips that contact was made with Petit Touré…

Maka went on to describe who Petit Touré was and what his relationship had been with Houphouët-Boigny and with the people allegedly sent by Houphouët to plan subversion against Guinea:

« Mamadou Touré, so called “Petit” Touré, was born in the Ivory Coast, where he was engaged in commercial activities until 1959. He is known to all of the political leaders of the Ivory Coast and especially to the Ivory Coast’s head of state who used him in 1958 as an agent to procure a “Yes” vote during the Constitutional Referendum of September 28, 1958. He was also sent to Niger to back Hamani Diori against the Sawaba [movement] 6.
Petit Touré arrived in Guinea toward the end of 1959 completely lacking in any financial or material means. He first worked as the manager of a bar at a monthly salary of 35,000 francs ($142), and then was engaged as the head of the merchandise department of the Guinean Office of Internal Commerce before becoming head
of the important national enterprise, Sonatex. He used his position to establish firm contacts with the milieu of commercial traffickers and, by corrupt means, embezzled for his own profit and in record time a colossal fortune amounting to several hundred million francs.
With the application of the laws of November 8, all of his possessions were confiscated and, for a while, he was under arrest. He was at the head of the discontented traffickers whose criminal action had been halted by the loi-cadre.
It is for these various reasons that the Houphouët-Tshombe clique, using the French Embassy in Conakry, chose Petit Touré to head the internal subversion whose aim it was to perpetrate criminal attempts against the leaders of the Republic of Guinea.
By different messages exchanged between Petit Touré and Houphouët, arrangements concerning the execution of the insurrectional subversion were decided upon. Petit Touré received from Houphouët important sums numbering in the hundreds of millions. The main liaison agent between Petit Touré and Houphouët was François Kata Kamano, Director-General of the Social Security Office of the Ivory Coast and a member of the Ivory Coast’s Economic Council. Francyois Kata Kamano is married to a Guinean citizen. He had direct contact with various Guinean groups and an entrée into the palace of the President of the Republic…
… Between January and October 1965, Kamano made four trips to Guinea. According to his own statements, the purpose of these trips was to study the reactions of the commercial milieu to the loi-cadre of November 8, 1964, and to make useful contacts in preparation for the coup d’état.
During a trip made on August 21, 1965, Kamano was carrying the sum of 30,000,000 C.F.A. francs ($120,000) to Petit Touré in a diplomatic valise.
Certain of strong financial and moral backing from abroad, Petit Touré actively began to prepare the execution of his satanic plan.
He began to recruit supporters from different groups and to set in motion the coup d’état. Petit Touré also discussed [with these people] the statutes of a so-called Parti de l’Unité Nationale which was to serve as a legal cover for the operation 7. »

Parade welcoming President Houphouet-Boigny in Conakry, 1962
Parade welcoming President Houphouet-Boigny in Conakry, 1962 (Photo: Information Côte d’Ivoire)

Having leveled these serious charges against the President of the Ivory Coast, Léon Maka then went on to describe how Petit Touré
sought to recruit other conspirators from among discontented elements in Guinea. Because of the several military coups that had shaken Africa over the previous few months, particular attention was to be paid to inciting Guinean soldiers to rebel against their leaders. Maka alleged that a tract to this effect had been distributed in military camps around Conakry which read in part:

« To Members of the Guinean Army: Your sacred role is to defend the interests of the people, of whom you are an integral part, against all that is susceptible to alienating those interests. Unfortunately, today the people have no other enemy than their own leaders… You should immediately acquit yourselves of your responsibilities and put an end to this anarchy, the source of all the tragedies which at present are destroying our country. You should simply [depose] them [Guinea’s leaders] the way Ben Bella was deposed 8. »

The actual coup, according to Maka, was to have taken place at the 28th of September Stadium in Conakry on October 2, 1965, the anniversary of Guinea’s independence. Some four to five hundred commandos were to have been scattered throughout different parts of the stadium, and at a given signal, after the President had mounted the podium to deliver his address to the crowd, these people were to have begun shouting “Resign! Resign!” In the confusion that would have followed, it was supposed that the military would have intervened in order to have “assured the safety” of the chief of state and his entourage. In the event that the President and his ministers resisted, they were to have been shot.

Had this attempt failed, a second was to have taken place on October 9, 1965. This time the President’s car was to have been the target of a grenade attack on its way back to Conakry from Kindia. If this second attempt had also failed, still a third was to have been made. This one was to have taken place on October 17, 1965, and the people of Conakry were to have been incited to riot and lay siege to the President’s palace. Meanwhile, the Army was to have seized power and occupied the capital’s strategic points: Radio Conakry, the airport, the telecommunications center, etc.

After going into this detailed description of the nature of the antigovernment plot, Mr. Maka revealed the results of an inquiry that he said had been made by the Revolutionary Committee set up by the P.D.G.’s National Political Bureau to investigate the conspiracy. A list of fifty-nine names was read of people allegedly implicated in the plot. Heading the list were François Kata Kamano, the Ivoirien official, and Petit Touré. Close behind were the names of:

  • Jean Faraguet Tounkara, former Minister of Youth and one-time member of the National Political Bureau
  • Sory Caba, former Guinean Ambassador to the Soviet Union
  • Bengaly Camara, former Minister of Information

Like Tounkara, Camara also had been a member of the National Political Bureau.

The list also contained the names of doctors, civil servants, teachers, merchants, a battalion commander in the Guinean army, and a host of less prominent people, including tailors, chauffeurs, messenger boys, typists, ordinary laborers, and even housewives.

When Maka had finished speaking, Sékou Touré himself rose to address the council. Touré related the present plot to an earlier conspiracy (1960) in which Houphouët and the French had supposedly also been involved. The President said that in order that the world should know about Houphouët’s evil designs against himself and his government, he was addressing the following open message to all African heads of state 9:

« We have the honor of informing you of the discovery of a vast conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Guinean government and perpetrating the assassination of my very person—a conspiracy hatched with the active participation of the President of the Ivory Coast: Felix Houphouët-Boigny. We should also like to announce
to you that we have notified the Secretariat of the O.A.U. [Organization for African Unity] of a complaint against Mr. Houphouët.

Warm and fraternal greetings
Ahmed Sékou Touré »

After hearing Léon Maka’s allegations and President Touré’s open message to other African heads of state, the C.N.R. unanimously
passed a resolution establishing a Permanent Revolutionary Committee, “to carry out investigations to permit the Revolutionary Tribunal to unmask and strike down without mercy all of the nation’s enemies.” 10
The C.N.R. also called upon the Political Bureau to undertake immediately all measures necessary to implement the provisions of the loi-cadre. The C.N.R.’s resolutions also called upon all militants of the revolution to rally together in order to deal a final and crushing blow to the “counterrevolution.”

President Touré then announced that all foreign ambassadors accredited to the Guinean government were “invited” to a meeting on November 17, 1965, during which he would reiterate the charges just made by Mr. Maka. The French Ambassador to Guinea, Philippe Koenig, of course refused to attend such a meeting and notified President Touré of this decision. Touré thereupon told Koenig that, unless he reconsidered his decision and attended the projected meeting along with all the other chiefs of mission, he would be obliged to leave Guinea immediately . Ambassador Koenig’s stand was backed by the French Foreign Office, and he notified President Touré to this effect. Consequently, on November 17, the day of Touré’s meeting with the diplomatic chiefs, the French Ambassador left the country. Meanwhile, that same day in Paris, the Guinean Ambassador to France, M. Nanamoudou Diakité, was expelled.

Once again, relations between Guinea and France, and between
Guinea and its African neighbors, had reached a low ebb . Anxiously, the Guineans awaited the next move. It would come from the Ivory Coast and from the other countries of the Entente .

Notes
1.  For a fuller discussion of these reforms see, Victor D. Du Bois, The Rise of an Opposition to Sékou Touré, Part I: Reform and Repression by the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (VDB-1-’66), American Universities Field Staff Reports, West Africa Series, Volume IX, No. 1, March 1966 .
2.  “Le Crime de Petit Touré,” Fraternité-Matin (Abidjan), November 23, 1965 (author’s translation).
3.  Horoya, Organe Quotidien du Parti Démocratique de Guinée, No. 745 (Conakry), October 20, 1965, p. 1.
4.  Allegedly, there had been two previous antigovernment plots, one in 1960 and the other in 1961. The Guineans accused the French and Houphouet of being the principal instigators of the first, and the Soviets of being involved in the second.
5.  Raymond Triboulet was the Minister Delegate in charge of Co-operation, and Louis Jacquinot the Minister of State in charge of Overseas Departments and Territories.
6. The Sawaba Movement was formerly a legal political party in what was French Niger. Its leader, Djibo Bakary, was Prime Minister of the territory. During the Constitutional Referendum of September 28, 1958, Bakary, like Sékou Touré, campaigned for a “No” vote. Niger nevertheless approved the charter. When Hamani Diori became President of independent Niger in 1960, the Sawaba Group was outlawed. Djibo Bakary fled the country and thereafter, operating from secret bases in Ghana, carried on subversive activities against the government in power.
7. Horoya (Conakry), November 17, 1965 (author’s translation) .
8. Ibid.
9. Horoya (Conakry), November 18, 1965 (author’s translation).
10. Ibid.

Next, Part IV: The Entente’s Reactions to the Guinean Accusations