CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Former supporters of President Alpha Conde announced a new opposition alliance on Friday, signaling the latest erosion in support for the leader since his 2010 election.
The defections come just months before the West African nation is due to hold long-anticipated legislative elections and raises concerns about Conde's ability to draw support from several key ethnic groups.
The alliance known as the Republican Club is headed by ex-Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore, a former ardent Conde supporter from the minority Forestier ethnic group, one of two minority groups that buoyed Conde to victory.
Guinea's president had promised to distribute administrative posts equally between members of his alliance, including the Forestiers and to the second group, the Soussous, which they say he has failed to fulfill.
Now that he is in office, Conde, who is from the Malinke ethnicity, is accused of favoring his ethnic kin in appointments across the board, from cabinet positions right down to the janitors in ministerial buildings. The country's army is also majority-Malinke and there have been persistent accusations that the security forces target members of other ethnicities.
"The administration is violating people's rights and is doing so in the name of Alpha Conde," Dore said. "I had expected that the new government was putting an end to these practices. We have fought 20 years for that."
The former French colony had suffered decades of autocratic rule since its independence from France in 1958 until the historic 2010 vote, its first fully democratic election.
Conde ultimately defeated a Peul candidate in that election, which was overwhelmingly carried out along ethnic lines that sparked violence between Peul and Malinke voters. Although there are no accurate census figures, most experts say that the Peul and the Malinke each represent roughly 30 to 40 percent of the population, and together they make-up as much as 60 to 80 percent of the electorate.
The 2010 election, therefore, came down to the support of the Soussous and the Forestier and Conde won the runoff after winning over members of the smaller ethnic groups. Friday's new political alliance suggests Conde may be losing support from those groups.
However, Mohammed Makanera Al Kake, a spokesman for the president's party called the new alliance "a non-event."
"This does not bother us at all because today all decent Guineans appreciate the real value of the progress shown by President Alpha Conde," he said.
In taking office, Conde inherited the financial woes from decades of fiscal mismanagement. Despite the country's vast mineral riches, it remains deeply impoverished and the cost of living has risen for the country's 10 million people.
Last year, Conde narrowly survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and pounded his bedroom with rockets.