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Guinea Coup: You can be free, but you will have to wait three years

Guinea's President Alpha Conde. File Photo.

Guinea's President Alpha Conde. File Photo.

Published May 8, 2022

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Cape Town - Last week, the military junta in Guinea said its transition back to civilian rule would probably take more than three years, a proposal likely to upset West Africa's political bloc that has called for a swift return to constitutional order.

Military leaders have snatched power in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea over the last two years, raising concerns of a backslide in democracy in West Africa that over the past decade had begun to shed its reputation as a "coup belt", a Reuters report revealed.

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ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Mali after military leaders proposed holding onto power until 2025, hammering its economy by shutting it off from regional trade and financial markets. ECOWAS has given Mali 12-16 months to arrange democratic elections.

When Burkina Faso’s leaders proposed a three-year transition to civilian rule, ECOWAS called for “a more acceptable timeline” but stopped short of imposing sanctions on the impoverished state, according to Reuters.

ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on Guinea's junta leaders but not on the wider economy. A spokesperson declined to comment on Sunday.

Doumbouya said he would submit the proposal to the National Transitional Council, an 80-member body set up by the junta to act as parliament during the transition to elections.

Legal proceedings against ousted President Conde

Guinea's attorney general has ordered legal proceedings against ousted President Alpha Conde and 26 of his former officials over violence surrounding Conde's disputed bid for a third term, a court document showed on Wednesday.

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Conde, 84, was overthrown in a military coup last September by officers who now run the West African country. Anger against him had mounted after he altered the constitution to run for re-election in 2020, which he won.

The charges against Conde and his allies include complicity in murder and assault, sexual violence and forced disappearances arising from civil unrest that broke out around the disputed election, according to a document signed by the attorney general.

African governments, including Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, have condemned the forced military take over in Guinea and have made calls for the immediate, unharmed release of the president - a call that has fallen on deaf ears.

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In September 2021, Guinea junta leader Mamadi Doumbouya was inaugurated as interim president to oversee what regional powers hope will be a short transition to constitutional rule after the September 5 overthrow of President Alpha Conde.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the head of the junta that took power in a coup last September, told state television on Saturday that after political consultations, he was considering a transition of 39 months – the first time he has proposed a timeline, Reuters reported.

ECOWAS Anti-coup Drive

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa praised West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS for developing what he called a "decisive" anti-coup strategy.

West Africa has seen a resurgence of coups in recent months, and the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States has deployed "stabilising" forces in Guinea-Bissau.

ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff met from 5 to 6 May to discuss the implementation of the recommendations of their 41st session held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 17 to 19 November 2021, where the regional security situation arising from terrorist attacks and the increase in illegal acts at sea was top on the agenda.

The general faith in governments has started waning, with civil society desperate for a change to improve their livelihoods, even if it came at a cost.

As the pages of history show, African leaders don’t give up power easily, with many remaining in office for decades, often clinging onto power until they are either ousted or die.

These leaders often set up special military forces to protect them and the state from the enemy. However, the irony in this is that in most cases, it is the hired help who ousts his master.

With so much of Guinea’s mineral wealth left virtually untouched, the race is on to develop the necessary infrastructure to facilitate mineral exploitation, writes Shannon Ebrahim.

Guinea is a country considered a treasure trove of mineral resources, much of which is yet to be exploited. The future political trajectory of the country will determine which major powers lay their hands on these critical resources, says Ebrahim.

Power grabs in West and Central Africa over the last few years, including the military takeover in Chad, Mali and most recently, Guinea, begs the question, are military takeovers the new way of rooting out Africa’s ageing leaders and their governments, or is the continent capable of peaceful transitions of power without the use of violence or intimidation as seen in the region in recent years?

Meanwhile, Doumbouya said that 39 months was the average timeline that emerged from consultations with political parties and civil society groups, which his main opponents boycotted.

It was not clear when the 39 month period would start.

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