Maneuvering Before the September 28 Referendum

Victor D. Du Bois
The Guinean Vote for Independence. The Maneuvering Before the Referendum of September 28, 1958
American Universities Field Staff Reports.
West Africa Series Vol. V No. 7, 1962 (Guinea), pp. 1-13

Conakry, October 1962

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

Hoping to persuade the peoples of the Overseas Territories to vote for the Constitution of the Fifth Republic and thus inaugurate the French-African Community, General de Gaulle, as Premier of France, toured French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, and Madagascar the month preceding the referendum.

The official party included Pierre Pflimlin, former Premier and now Minister of State in the De Gaulle government, and Bernard Cornut-Gentille, Minister of Overseas-France. De Gaulle’s itinerary was planned to take him to five capitals in sub-Saharan Africa, all of them major centers of political activity: Tananarive (Madagascar), Brazzaville (Middle or French Congo), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Conakry (French Guinea), and Dakar (Senegal). De Gaulle’s aim in making the trip was twofold: to persuade the African leaders of these territories to rally behind him in a reorganization of the French Union, and to gauge at firsthand the character and strength of the nationalist movement in sub-Saharan Africa.

President of the Council of Government, and Secretary-general of the P.D.G., Sékou Touré, addressing a rally of Guinean soldiers in Conakry just before the referendum. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)
President of the Council of Government, and Secretary-general of the P.D.G., Sékou Touré, addressing a rally of Guinean soldiers in Conakry just before the referendum. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)

Tananarive was the first stop. The 30,000 people assembled at the airport gave De Gaulle only a lukewarm reception. He made two speeches: one before the 240 members of the Territorial Assembly, and the ether to a crowd of 10,000 gathered in the public square in front of the old royal palace. At the conclusion of De Gaulle’s first address, Premier Philbert Tsiranana pledged his firm support in the coming referendum 1. The Madagascan public was rouch cooler 2; the brutal French repression of the abortive nationalist revolt of 1947, in which an estimated 55,000 persons are said to have lost their lives, was still very rouch remembered 3. To the disappointment of the Madagascans, De Gaulle failed even to allude to the three nationalist leaders, Joseph Raseta, Joseph Ravoahangy, and Jacques Rabemanamjara (all of them prominent in the outlawed Democratie Movement for Madagascan Renovation), who had been prisoners in France since 1947, much less promise an amnesty for them. Nor did De Gaulle even once use the magic word, independence.

From Tananarive De Gaulle went to Brazzaville where he received (on August 23, 1958) one of the warmest and most enthusiastic welcomes of his entire journey . It is easy to see why the reception in Brazzaville differed so markedly from that in Tananarive. The French Congo (like most of French Equatorial Africa) had largely escaped the strong currents of nationalism that had engulfed much of French Africa and, unlike Madagascar, it had known neither violence nor repression. Moreover, in 1940, when Governor-General Félix Eboué rallied the Equatorial territories to the Free French, General de Gaulle had made his first African headquarters in Brazzaville. Now he was welcomed as a hero returning home.

The warmth and sincerity of the welcome, however, were not enough to conceal the uneasiness which many Equatorial political leaders felt over the Constitution De Gaulle was asking them to support. They had strong reservations about its viability, but were disturbed most by the lack of specific provisions for obtaining eventual independence. Within a few hours after De Gaulle’s arrival in Brazzaville, Barthélemy Boganda, President of the grand conseil of French Equatorial Africa and head of the Ubangi-Shari (now Central African Republic — T.S. Bah) section of the Parti du Regroupement Africain (P.R.A.) 4, presented General de Gaulle with a memorandum signed by him and other Equatorial political leaders declaring that:

« We ask the French Government to insert in the Constitutional texts: “France recognizes the independence of her Overseas Territories. They can reap its benefits when they wish. As a consequence, a simple unilateral decision of the assemblies and councils [councils of ministers] of the local governments would suffice to make this independence effective. 5 »

In a series of private conferences the following day, De Gaulle gave his persona! assurance that the right to future independence would be solidly and unequivocally written into the new Constitution. This
promise allayed the fears of the Equatorial leaders, and won the ir pledge of support. On August 31, 1958, before 300 P.R.A. officiais and party workers assembled in Bangui (capital of Ubangi-Shari) to hear a report on the consultations between De Gaulle and African leaders, Boganda came out flatly for an affirmative vote in the impending referendum.

His announcement moved P.R.A. leaders from other French African territories to issue a joint declaration from Paris in which they stated that the party was moving toward acceptance of the new Constitution 6.

From De Gaulle’s remarks in Brazzaville, there had been derived a principle which was to be important in winning the support of Africans in other French-held areas for the new Constitution: self-determination for the Overseas Territories and their right to opt for independence at any time they chose. De Gaulle had broached the subject of self-determination in a speech in France early in August 1958. He said then that any territory that rejected the Constitution on September 28 would thereby secede from the French community of peoples and, he added, would have to incur the consequences. However ominous this last reservation might appear, the implication was that if a territory hoped to gain its independence the sensible course would be to seize the occasion provided by the referendum of September 28, lest another opportunity should never arise. De Gaulle quickly realized, however, that such a challenge was scarcely the way to win the support of militant African nationalists for his new Constitution. He never again used this argument.

De Gaulle’s statement at Brazzaville had introduced a new element: the right of a territory to secede even after it had accepted the Constitution. De Gaulle’s position at the time was that whenever the parliamentary body of a territory should decide to separate its destiny from that of France, it could do so provided a territorial referendum first ratified the decision and other members of the Community (including France) gave their consent. To many Africans the latter condition seemed to vitiate De Gaulle ‘s assurances of “providing for independence,” since it appeared to set up a veto power which, they feared, France would use. Thanks to the quick thinking of Cornut-Gentille, De Gaulle’s Minister of Overseas-France, African fears were dispelled. At a press conference after the Brazzaville speech, Cornut-Gentille declared that it was inconceivable that France would exercise a veto when the territorial peoples had made the ir will unmistakably clear.

From Brazzaville, De Gaulle and his party flew on August 24, 1958, to Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast. On arriving they were treated to a rousing welcome at the airport by more than 30,000 cheering Ivoiriens, bearing signs inscribed “OUI!” in huge letters. This cordial reception was due only in part to the friendship and close association between De Gaulle and Prime Minister Félix Houphouët-Boigny. De Gaulle’s tour throughout French Africa had been followed closely by the territorial press and broadcast over Radio Abidjan. Doubtless, his remarks at the other two African cities (Tananarive and Brazzaville) accounted in no small measure for the enthusiasm which marked his arrival in Abidjan 7.

From Abidjan De Gaulle went to Conakry, arriving there on August 25. As in Brazzaville and Abidjan, the public welcome was enthusiastic. Thousands of people lined De Gaulle’s route from the airport into Conakry. Although he was forewarned of the extremism of Guinea’s Prime Minister, Sékou Touré, it is unlikely that De Gaulle was aware or, if aware, was really convinced of the depth of the anti-French feeling in the territory . A clear picture of the fateful chain of events that sprang from De Gaulle’s meeting with Sékou Touré is essential to an understanding of the achievement of Guinea’s independence and will be treated in greater detail later in this Report.

(Sékou Touré’s official title was Président du Conseil de Gouvernement. He had outmaneuvered and upstaged the Governor of the Territoire, who still, though, remained the chief executive of  French Guinea. — T.S. Bah}

From Conakry De Gaulle went to Dakar, the final stop on his trip through French Black Africa, and his most difficult test. Despite advance warning that the reception in Dakar might be “difficult,” 8 De Gaulle would not be dissuaded from speaking there . When he arrived in Dakar on August 26, he found thousands of Africans awaiting him at the air port bearing signs reading “Immediate Independence !” and waving red flags bearing the ‘“black star of Africa.” 9 They threw into the air disks of yellow paper printed with the triple slogan:

Immediate Independence — A Federal African Nation — Confederation with France.

Hundreds of hecklers were scattered through the crowd, most of them members of an extremist organization, The Comité pour la Défense des Libertés Democratiques of Dakar. The principal opposition, however, clearly stemmed from the P.R.A. [Parti du Regroupement Africain] which controlled Senegal and had taken an extreme nationalist stand at its congress at Cotonou earlier that same month.

A similarly tense atmosphere prevailed the following day when De Gaulle addressed a crowd of some 15,000 in Dakar’s main square. While not violent, his listeners were openly hostile . The P.R.A. leaders on the tribune with De Gaulle were moderates 10, but their efforts failed to calm the Senegalese, who made such a din that De Gaulle could scarcely be heard as he made his now routine request for endorsement of the proposed Constitution. One by one, the African political leaders rose to demand the very thing that De Gaulle already had offered: a formula for obtaining independence at the option of the individual territories.
From Paris, meanwhile, Léopold Senghor and Mamadou Dia issued a public apology through the press for the discourteous way General de Gaulle was received by certain citizens of Dakar. Both, however, reaffirmed their support of the three demands formulated by the P.R.A.’s August conference at Cotonou: immediate independence, an African federation, and confederation with France. This program was difficult to reconcile with De Gaulle’s concept of the Community, which merely acknowledged the right of independence for the member states. Nevertheless, virtually all P.R.A. leaders, mindful of the need for continued financial assistance from France, were extremely reluctant to reject De Gaulle’s proposed Community and to come out openly for a negative vote 11.

[See The Trial of Mamadou Dia, a series of reports written by Victor Du Bois, upcoming. — T.S. Bah]

As he left French Black Africa and headed north to Algiers, De Gaulle had reason to be pleased with his accomplishments. Madagascar and French Equatorial Africa were firmly his; the Ivory Coast would surely vote “Yes,” and its powerful leader, R.D.A. chief Houphouët-Boigny, could be expected to rally most of French West Africa to vote with him. Despite the unfriendly reception at Dakar, it was unlikely that Senegal would vote “No” on September 28. Guinea was the only real problem.

De Gaulle in Guinea

The encounter between General de Gaulle and Sékou Touré in Conakry on August 25, 1958, when both addressed the Territorial Assembly, was the turning point in Franco-Guinean relations. Touré’s speech, which strongly denounced colonialism 12, left no doubt that unless the new Constitution met his demands 13, Guinea would assuredly vote “No” in the referendum, thereby severing its ties with France and with the rest of the French Union. De Gaulle, angered by Touré’s attack on the colonial administration, replied that Guinea could opt for independence on the 28th of September, but that it would have to “assume the consequences.” 14

Some weeks later, on September 14, 1958, the leaders of the R.D.A. met at Conakry to hammer out a common policy for voting in the referendum. Rallying behind Houphouët-Boigny, the party leaders of the various territories one after another declared their confidence in General de Gaulle and pledged themselves to vote “Yes.” Doubtlessly, many were influenced by French assurances that an affirmative vote would not preclude the achievement of full independence at a later date and that meanwhile their territories would continue to benefit from French financial assistance. The only exception was Sékou Touré. Speaking for the P.D.G., he asked for the immediate independence of his territory.

That same day, at the P.R.A. conference in Niamey (Niger), convened for the same purpose, the leaders of the Guinean section of that party, Barry III and Barry Diawadou, independently indicated their own decision to vote “No.”

The Réunion Commune, September 17, 1958

Events now moved swiftly in Guinea.
On September 17, 1958, Sékou Touré met in Conakry with Barry Diawadou and Barry III, leaders, respectively, of the B.A.G. and the D.S.G., the major “opposition” parties in Guinea, both now affiliated with the P.R.A. At this “réunion commune,” as their meeting later came to be called, the three leaders planned a campaign for all-out mobilization of the masses to vote against the proposed Constitution of the Fifth French Republic .

While a vigorous campaign was being waged throughout Guinea by the cadres of all three parties, Touré tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Barry Diawadou and Barry III to merge their parties with the P.D.G.

Although for the moment unwilling to go so far, the two leaders did agree to issue a communiqué jointly with Touré urging members of all three parties to vote “No.” The communiqué was generally accepted for what in fact it was: tacit recognition of the preeminent position of the P.D.G. and of Touré’ s undisputed control over it.

The Referendum, September 28, 1958

The stage was now set for the historic referendum. The colonial administration in Guinea set up 1,692 polling places in the territory to ensure that the populace would have ample facilities to express its will. As of the 27th of September, all bars, cafes, cinemas, and market places were closed to assure the maintenance of public order during the polling hours. Public meetings and demonstrations were banned and even the ubiquitous tom-tom was placed under interdiction. On the eve of the referendum, the P.D.G. broadcast a last-minute appeal over Radio Conakry urging all Guinean Muslims (80% of the population) to vote “No” on the morrow.

President Sékou Touré on tour of Guinea shortly after independence. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)
President Sékou Touré on tour of Guinea shortly after independence. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)
Guinean women, members of the P.D.G., march for Sékou Touré shortly after the declaration of independence. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)
Guinean women, members of the P.D.G., march for Sékou Touré shortly after the declaration of independence. (Photograph courtesy Ministry of Information, Republic of Guinea.)

The early hours of September 28 saw a massive but orderly turnout all over the country, from the capital city of Conakry to the remotest hinterland of Upper Guinea and the Forest Region. As can be seen from the table below, voter turnout was extraordinarily high. Well before the polls opened, at eight o’clock in the morning, voters, men on one side and women on the ether, formed long lines as they waited to cast their ballots. In many are as a majority of the returns were in before noon. The first count, in Conakry, revealed a pattern that was to be followed rather generally throughout the country. Of the first 9,147 votes counted in that city, 9,142 were “No” votes. The efficient P.D.G. organization, which over the past few years had meticulously built up an impressive system of communications with the bush, proved its worth: of 1.405,986 registered voters (of whom 1,200,171 voted) , 1,130,292 voted “No.” 15

Of the 56,959 “Yes” votes, 27,440, or more than half, came from the circumscription of Labé, a Foulah stronghold in the heart of Fouta-Djallon. The extraordinary degree of abstention in the Labé area-almost 50% led some white residents in Guinea to speak somewhat wistfully of a “Foulah opposition” to Sékou Touré and to the Malinké-dominated P.D.G. 16

Guinea: Voting Results in the Referendum of the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic. September 28, 1958

Guinean Circonscription Registered Voters Number Voting   “Oui”     “Non”
Beyla 73,401 71,973 37 71,764
Boffa 33,422 31,544 133 31,368
Boké 40,476 31.070 99 30.951
Conakry 44.389 41.513 991 39,232
Dabola 20,349 19,247 8 19,225
Dalaba 45,128 31,523 6,903 24,676
Dinguiraye 26,537 23.537 76 23.438
Dubréka 45.479 44.109 23 44.049
Faranah 35,595 33,835 0 33,124
Forécariah 42,206 40,309 30 39,632
Gaoual 31,551 26,711 73 26.634
Guéckédou 59,771 57,089 1 57,070
Kankan 79,869 66.358 693 63,590
Kindia 55,213 53,928 1,021 49.904
Kissidougou 71,039 64,017 70 63,626
Kouroussa 43,476 31,940 643 31,200
Labé 113,349 68,471 27,440 40,143
Macenta 90,622 85,963 97 85,808
Mali 53,328 41,779 5,701 33,824
Mamou 54,562 44,288 455 43,453
NZérékoré 104,510 85,312 2,158 83,001
Pita 52,586 52,300 3,117 48,634
Siguiri 80,488 71,841 377 71,514
Tougué 29,256 21,024 3,905 17,006
Télimélé 52,426 37,584 2.907 34,527
Younkounkoun 26,958 22,906 1 22,899
Totals: 1,405,986 1,200,171 56,959 1,130,292
Source : “Les résultats du scrutin pour la Guinée.” in Sékou Touré, L’action politique du Parti Démocratique de Guinée pour l’émancipation africaine, Tome 2, n.p., n.d. (Conakry? 1959?), p 9.

Labé, however, was an exception. In all other parts of Guinea, the P.D.G. won an overwhelming endorsement for its policy of pulling Guinea out of the French community of nations 17. The P.D.G. [and its electoral allies — T.S.  Bah] rolled up a massive “No” vote not only in the hinterland, where its communications system with bush villages and the absence of French influence were to its advantage, but in the important urban centers as well. In the most important of these—Conakry, Kindia, Mamou, Kankan, Dabola, Beyla, and N’Zérékoré—Touré’s campaign for a “No” vote polled over 95% of the returns. The landslide figures of the referendum of September 28 not only were a de facto declaration of Guinean independence, but constituted an overwhelming endorsement of Sékou Touré and the P.D.G.

It took only two months and a day for the Guinean cadre of the P.R.A. to adjust itself to the new situation. On November 29, 1958, with Barry III acting as Secretary-General and Barry Diawadou as Coordinating Secretary, the party instructed its members to affiliate unconditionally with the P.D.G.

That same day, the Second National Conference of the P.D.G. passed a resolution acknowledging the absorption of the P.R.A. into its ranks 18. Organized opposition to Sékou Touré and to the P.D.G. had come to an end.

Even then, it was a hasty and unwise agreement. And in hindsight, it proved suicidal. For Sékou Touré would murder his former political rivals, despite their genuine surrender into the P.D.G. First, on May 26, 1969 he had Barry Diawadou executed by firing squad, along with Fodéba Keita, Kaman Diaby, et al. The commanding officer of the platoon —rumored to be Lieutenant Lansana Conté—forced the prisoners to dig their own graves. When —weakened by weeks of starvation—they could no longer deepen the holes, he barked “Fire.” And a hail of bullets shot at point blank cut down and wiped out the victims.
Then, on January 25, 1971, Sékou Touré ordered the public hanging of Barry III, next to Baldet Ousmane, Moriba Magassouba and Keita Kara Soufiana. There, too, Lt. Conté  participated un the killing of the four civilians. HIs military unit  secured the northern limit of the crime scene. Eyewitness accounts recalled that they saw him enter the dancing “La Paillotte” and tell the crowd: “Leave the premises immediately because we have important work to do!” Once the area had been cordoned, Captain Diarra Traoré placed the noose on each of the condemned. He then hanged them to death. one by one. (Read “La pendaison par Capitaine Mamady” in Lt. Colonel Kaba 41 Camara’s Dans la Guinée de Sékou Touré : cela a bien eu lieu)
Later that year, the two men received the salary for their cold-blooded, murderous and macabre zeal. The lieutenant advanced to the rank of Captain  and the captain became Commander (Commandant).
As in previous and subsequent purges, the dictator denied the accused their constitutional right to self-defense against accusations before a lawful court.
See my upcoming blog “Réunion, Illusion, Trahison.” — Tierno S. Bah.

Guinea, now independent, had one political chief, absolute master of one monolithic political party.

This statement applied relatively, not absolutely, based on the following events and facts:

  1. Between 1956 and 1962, Sékou Touré’s political leadership was held in check by Saifoulaye Diallo’s strong following among the P.D.G. elite who had  graduated from William Ponty School . One one hand, they deferred and valued Sékou Touré’s energy. But, on the other, they placed more trust on Saifoulaye’s temperament and intellect. Read R. W. Johnson’s The Parti Démocratique de Guinée and the Mamou ‘deviation’.

  2. On the eve of taking over the reins of power, a heated internal debate temporarily paralyzed the Comité directeur of the PDG. At issue was, again, the respective roles of the Touré-Diallo duo. Some party officials expressed the view that Saifoulaye, not Sékou, should become head of the government, because, they argued, he was level-headed —in contrast to Touré’s often impulsive decision-making and erratic style—, and would implement policies better. They recommended that Sékou Touré becomes the head of the Territorial Assembly, where he would track vigorously the executive branch. Deputy Djeli Bakar Kouyaté —from Labé— was the most vocal advocate for such an arrangement. The majority overruled him, however. Thus Sékou Touré maintained his position, first as vice-president, then as president of the Council of Government. And Saifoulaye was elected president of the Territorial Assembly. Both men kept their powerful titles as secretary-general (Sékou) and political secretary (Saifoulaye) of the Politburo of the P.D.G.
    Later on, in 1972, while Governor of Dalaba, Djeli Bakar Kouyaté was summoned immediately to the Presidency of the republic in Conakry. Suspicious of the motive behind the order and mindful of the vindictive nature of Sékou Touré, he declined to make to the trip. Instead, he chose to commit suicide by swallowing a lethal dose of painkillers.

  3. However, in December 1962, at the party seminar in Foulaya (Kindia), some party cadres criticized Sékou Touré’s cumulative functions as head of the state and the party.  By a slim majority, they proposed to strip Sékou Touré from his political role leaving him with only the presidency of the republic. And they elected Saifoulaye as secretary general of the P.D.G.  The crisis was averted only by Saifoulaye declining the outcome of the vote, effectively yielding to Sékou Touré. Read “Sékou se retrouve deux fois minoritaire dans son propre parti en 1962” in Ibrahima Baba Kaké’s Sékou Touré. Le Héros et le Tyran.

  4. Back in 1959 at a party conference in Kankan, young lawyer Ibrahima Diallo publicly questioned the direction the country was headed under Sékou Touré’s stewardship. He invoked his constitutional rights and announced that he would create an opposition party to challenge the rule of the PDG. He —and his co-defendants imam Elhadj Mohamed Lamine Kaba and pharmacist Fodé “Legros” Touré— would die in June 1960 by execution or from wounds sustained under torture. It was the first of a series of so-called plots that turned Guinea into a police state.

  5. In 1965, Mamadou “Petit” Touré made a similar rebuke to Sékou Touré in a written statement announced the creation of a new political party. Read  Du Bois’ The Plot Against the Government and the Accusations Against the Council of the Entente and France.

  6. Resistance to the tyranny culminated with the Market Women’s revolt of July-September 1977. An important part of the overall population, these food-sellers and bread-winners marched boldly throughout Conakry, venting their frustration, condemning the president’s economic policies and expressing their feeling of having been betrayed. (Tierno S. Bah)

The same day that the outcome of the vote in Guinea was announced (September 28) the French government, through its administration in Conakry, issued the following communiqué:

« Article One of the Constitution specifies that: the Republic and the peoples of the Overseas Territories who, by an act of free choice, adopt the present Constitution, institute a Community.
By the vote of September 28, the Guinean electorate refused the adoption of the Constitution submitted for
its approbation.
By this act, Guinea is separated from the other territories of French West Africa which approved the Constitution.
By this act, the Constitution shall not be promulgated
in Guinea.
By this act, Guinea no longer has an accredited representative within the organs of the Community, whether they be African or metropolitan.
By this act, Guinea can no longer qualify to receive the assistance of the Administration of the French State or credits for matériel.
By this act, the responsibilities assumed by the French
State in Guinea will be subject to revision.
To avoid disturbing the administrative and financial
functioning of the Territory, the functionaries of the French State serving in Guinea will remain at their
posts for the present, but a plan for the transfer of
these functionaries to identical posts in the other Territories will be established and regulated by the High
Commissioner in French West Africa and put into application within two months by a progressive and methodical plan.
Similarly, the suspension of equipment operations will
permit no new enterprises 19.

After the referendum, Sékou Touré, as Prime Minister of the Territory of French Guinea, formally submitted his government’s resignation to the Territorial Assembly 20. Meeting in extraordinary session on October 2, 1958, the Assembly proclaimed the independence of the Territory and its designation as the Republic of Guinea 21. The Territorial Assembly was reconstituted as a sovereign National Constituent Assembly, and the title of deputy was bestowed on all its members. By acclamation, Sékou Touré was named president of the new republic and his government was confirmed by the Assembly. Guinea’s proclamation of independence affirmed the new nation’s adherence to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and authorized Guinea’s application for
membership in the world body.

The Assembly accorded the government full powers to direct the affairs of the country, and to take all measures necessary to the national interest.

The Transfer of Authority

French authority in Guinea ceased at midnight, September 30, 1958. At that hour, the French Republic relinquished its sovereignty to the Territorial Assembly and its conseil de gouvernement. Governor Jean Risterucci, General de Gaulle’s special representative in Conakry, announced in a press conference on September 29, 1958, that although the services of the French State would no longer operate after September 30, French functionaries serving in Guinea would be allowed to remain at their posts for two months, until November 30, to allow a smooth transition from French to Guinean authority . After November 30, functionaries wishing to remain in Guinea would be allowed to enter into personal contracts with the new government, whereupon appropriate procedure for their separation from the French government would be begun.
The French government promised that those who chose to leave Guinea would be given primary consideration for assignment to other areas of French West Africa. Exception was made for technical personnel in the air and maritime security services and for officers of the French treasury. These workers were ordered to remain at their posts during the two-month transition period and until they received further instructions from Paris.

(See also André Lewin. Ahmed Sékou Touré (1922-1984).
Président de la Guinée de 1958 à 1984. Chapitre 26. 28 septembre 1958. C’est “Non”. — T.S. Bah)

The Guineans contend that the withdrawal of French functionaries was deliberately and unnecessarily abrupt; that, although De Gaulle allowed two months for the removal of French personnel this was not sufficient time to find and train Guinean replacements. The French contend that the Guineans were anxious to have them leave so that they could themselves assume power. They point out that almost immediately after independence, Sékou Touré asked that all European commandants de cercles be removed as quickly as possible 22. It may be argued whether De Gaulle set the two-month limit as a deliberate attempt to cripple the young nation, or did Guinea a favor by granting as much time as he did for the transfer. Even allowing for his desire to avoid the administrative upheaval (of the sort which later characterized the Belgian withdrawal from the Congo), it is difficult to see how it could have been expected that a qualified civil service of Guineans might have been trained in so short a period of time.

Two days after Guinea had obtained its independence, its exports (chiefly bananas, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil) ceased to be admitted to France under the favored-nation treatment accorded other French-African states. All investments by the central investment agency for the Overseas Territories (F.I.D.E.S. 23 ) were halted immediately, and projected investments were canceled. French financial assistance to the Guinean territorial treasury was suspended. It was announced that after October 1, 1958, all administrative and judicial services of the French State, not specially provided for, would cease. Guinea was now alone to fend for itself.

1.  On August 22, 1958, the day after De Gaulle’s departure, Tsiranana made it known that he was supporting De Gaulle’s proposed community as a step toward eventual independence . “If we remain in the Community,” he said, “it is because we are not yet ripe for independence. We shall ask for it one day.” He went on to say that he hoped that this day would come as quickly as possible, but added that “even independent, we shall remain tied to France.” The New York Times , August 23, 1958.
2.  Much of the lack of response was apparently due to technical difficulties which developed at the last moment. The public-address system functioned poorly and observers commented on how slowly and cumbersomely De Gaulle’s remarks were translated from French into the Madagascan language.
3.  See Edwin S. Munger, After the Rebellion (ESM-35-’53) , an AUFS publication.
4.  See Guinea: The Years Before World War II (VDB-5-’62), an AUFS publication.
5.  The New York Times, August 3 1, 1958.
6.  Ibid.
7.  One of the people who met De Gaulle at the airport was Gabriel d’Arboussier, “enfant terrible” of the early days of the R.D.A., and at one-time major spokesman for its Communist faction. Now, once again in the graces of the government as President of the Grand Conseil of French West Africa, he is reported to have said at the airport: “After General de Gaulle’s address at Brazzaville, there is no doubt about the referendum.” The New York Times, August 25, 1958.
8.  While still in Brazzaville, De Gaulle had been informed of a broadcast over Radio Dakar by Valdiodio Ndiaye, Senegalese Minister of the Interior, saying that Senegal had chosen independence within a French Confederation in keeping with the decision reached
by the P.R.A. leaders at their recent congress in Cotonou. Ndiaye called upon all Senegalese to remain calm and avoid public disturbances during General de Gaulle’s impending visit. The New York Times, August 24, 1958.

9.  The symbol of the small but militant Parti Africain de l’Indépendance  (P.A.I.), an extreme nationalist organization.
10.  Both Léopold Senghor and Mamadou Dia, Senegalese leaders of the P.R.A., were in Europe during De Gaulle’s visit to Dakar and made it a point not to return for the occasion.
11.  Djibo Bakary, Marxist-trained unionist and P.R.A. leader and head of the government of Niger, was the only exception. He made it clear at the P.R.A. conference in Cotonou that he would call upon his followers to vote “No” in the referendum. Bakary was faced with strong pro-French sentiment in his territory, however, and he lost out on the issue when the French put heavy political (and military) pressure on the Nigériens to vote “Yes.”
12.  One of the things that most annoyed De Gaulle was Touré’s remark that Guineans preferred “poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.” (“Nous préférons la pauvreté dans la liberté à la richesse dans l’esclavage.”)
13.  See Guinea’s Prelude to Independence (VDB-6-’62), an AUFS publication, for recapitualtion.
14.  « On a parlé d’indépendance, je dis ici plus haut encore qu’ailleurs que l’indépendance est à la disposition de la Guinée. Elle peut la prendre, elle peut la prendre le 28 septembre en disant « NON » à la proposition qui lui est faite et dans ce cas je garantis que la Métropole n’y fera pas obstacle. Elle en tirera, bien sûr, des conséquences, mais d’obstacles elle n’en fera pas et votre Territoire pourra comme il le voudra et dans les conditions qu’il voudra, suivre la route qu’il voudra. » (“There has been talkof independence, and I say here, more loudly than elsewhere, that independence is Guinea’s for the taking. She can take it, she can take it on the 28th of September by saying “No” to the proposition that has been laid before her, and in this case I guarantee that the Métropole will not put up any obstacles. She [the Métropole] will, indeed, draw some conclusions, but she will create no obstacles and your territory will be able to follow the road it wishes, as it wishes, and in the conditions it wishes .” “Discours du Général de Gaulle”; full text quoted in Sékou Touré, L’action politique du Parti Démocratique de Guinée pour l’émancipation africaine, Vol. I (Conakry, 1958), p. 88.
15.  Sékou Touré, L’action politique du Parti Démocratique de Guinée pour l’émancipation africaine, Tome 2, n.p., n.d. (Conakry? 1959?), p. 9.
16.  A more likely explanation for the peculiar vote in Labé was offered by Jean Bernard-Derosne, French correspondent for L’Aurore of Paris. He pointed out that the circumscription of Labé contained thousands of veterans and African military personnel who were fearful that a “No” vote would mean an end to the pensions paid them by the French government —a belief, incidentally, which proved unfounded. The French government to this day pays full pensions to Guineans who served with the French armed forces. Even during the most tense period of Franco-Guinean relations (March-August 1960), the French maintained treasury officials in Guinea to honor this obligation. See L’Aurore, 5 avril 1959.
17.  In some areas the vote could only be described as astonishing. In the circumscription of Guéckédou, for example, of 57,089 votes cast in the referendum, only one was “Yes.” In Faranah, of 33,835 votes cast, 33,124 were “No,” while the electoral rolls indicated that no one had cast an affirmative vote. In Younkounkoun, of 22,906 votes cast, 22,899 were “No” and only one was “Yes.” The official tally of votes as provided by Guinean sources does not explain the discrepancies apparent in comparing them with the number of persons actually voting. Presumably they are due to spoiled ballots.
18.  “Résolution finale de la deuxième Conférence Nationale des cadres du P.D.G.,” Touré, op. cit., footnote fifteen, p. 242.
19.  “La France prend acte du vote de la Guinée,” Touré, ibid., pp. 13-14.
20.  “La démission du conseil de gouvernement, le 2 octobre 1958,” Touré, ibid., pp. 23-24.
21.  “Proclamation de l’indépendance de la République de Guinée,” Journal officiel de la République de Guinée, Débats Parlementaires, 1ère Année, No. 1, 2 octobre 1958.
22.  Shortly after completing a visit to Guinea, British Africanist Basil Davidson wrote: “There must have been, and I should think there still is, a good deal of quiet confusion, since the whole French ‘field administration’ of 45 commandants de cercles and assistants was withdrawn, by urgent request of the new government in Guinea within two or three weeks of independence …” New Statesman, April 11, 1959, pp . 500-502.
23.   Fonds d’Investissement pour le Développement Économique et Social (F.I.D.E .S.).