Meet George Soros’ favorite African strongman
George Soros, the billionaire banker who recently backed Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations, also supports and finances a corrupt African strongman dragging his country to the brink of civil unrest.
Soros is the chief foreign backer of Alpha Conde, president of the mineral-rich West African nation of Guinea. Through his many think tanks and consulting firms, Soros helped Conde fleece foreign mining companies, despite political corruption and human rights abuses.
Conde gained power in 2010 through Guinea’s first ostensibly free vote since it gained independence from France in 1958. The election was marred by probable voter fraud, as Conde suspiciously jumped from 18 percent in the first round of voting to 52 percent in the final tally.
Now it seems Conde may have stolen another election. Guinean opposition claims that the president rigged a parliamentary vote held last September by stacking the nation’s election commission with his cronies.
“We were flagrantly robbed,” an opposition spokesperson told The Guardian. U.S., EU, French and UN representatives openly denounced “shortcomings and irregularities [that could] undermine the credibility of certain results.”
“The election commission has only published 30 percent of the votes cast,” said Tomas Caprioglio, an EU official monitoring the election. “People exercised their right to vote. A solution must now be found to take account of the votes of all who participated.”
All sides are urging calm, fearful the unstable country could tip into violence. At least 50 people have been killed, and hundreds injured, by Conde’s security forces due to protests over the run-up to September’s vote.
Guinean news outlet Aminata reports that Conde also dissolved dozens of locally-elected councils and targeted ethnic minorities for state persecution.
Throughout all this, Soros has proven an ardent supporter and financier of the Conde regime. In early 2011 he spent four days with the autocrat, pledging legal support and at least $5 million in grants for the re-examination of Guinea’s mining contracts with foreign corporations.
“George Soros and his Open Society Foundations wholeheartedly support the principles announced by President Alpha Conde and will seek to help President Conde put these into effect,” a press release stated, referencing Conde’s claims that mining companies unfairly exploited Guineans and should return more profits to the Guinean government.
With the assistance of lawyers and cash from Soros group Revenue Watch, Conde overhauled Guinea’s mining regulations. The new code more than doubled the government’s share of mining profits — 15 percent to 35 percent — and mining firms must now pay the government $1 billion for a concession to mine a specific region, up from just $50 million previously.
The new rules backfired, freezing all but $300 million of the $20 billion in new investments headed for Guinea and effectively putting the country’s mining industry on hold. “The government’s current thinking is not aligned with the hard realities of the mining world,” a Guinean mining expert told Reuters in 2012.
Mandated investigations into corporate corruption — also supported by Soros’ legal team — are seen by some as a cover for outright nationalization. BSG Resources, one of the largest foreign mining firms in Guinea, called an ongoing probe into alleged graft “the fifth and most clumsy attempt by an already discredited Government of Guinea in an ongoing campaign to illegally seize BSGR’s assets.”
Even with a crumbling economy and escalating corruption and violence, Soros’ support for Conde has continued unabated. As recently as June he recommended his supporters read an op-ed by the president published in The Guardian.
“President Conde writes about the struggle to reform business practices in Guinea’s mining sector so all the people of Guinea can benefit from the country’s immense mineral wealth,” wrote Michael Vachon, a Soros Fund Management advisor rumored to be Soros’ personal political director. “Open Society Foundation has been in the forefront of promoting transparency, particularly in the governance of natural resources … [Conde’s] op-ed is an elegant statement of why the issue is so vital to [Africa’s] development.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation communicated with Vachon, but had not received comment at press time.
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