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Denounce Guinea’s Coup—and Incumbent Leaders’ Abuses of Power

1 34 19
21.09.2021

On Sept. 5, Guinea’s controversial President Alpha Condé was deposed from power by an elite military group led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya that was established in 2018 to battle growing terrorist threats in the region.

Doumbouya wants to be seen as a defender of democracy against one-man rule, paraphrasing in his first televised public address sentiments of the late Ghanaian military strongman-turned-President Jerry Rawlings: “If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom,” Doumbouya said.

Coming on the heels of successful coups in neighboring Mali and Chad, and an unsuccessful attempt in Niger, the coup has revived fears of military governments.

On Sept. 5, Guinea’s controversial President Alpha Condé was deposed from power by an elite military group led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya that was established in 2018 to battle growing terrorist threats in the region.

Doumbouya wants to be seen as a defender of democracy against one-man rule, paraphrasing in his first televised public address sentiments of the late Ghanaian military strongman-turned-President Jerry Rawlings: “If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom,” Doumbouya said.

Coming on the heels of successful coups in neighboring Mali and Chad, and an unsuccessful attempt in Niger, the coup has revived fears of military governments.

In line with its zero-tolerance policy toward military takeovers, the African Union suspended Guinea on Sept. 10, two days after the Economic Community of West African Nations (ECOWAS) did the same. The United Nations, European Union, United States, and France have all condemned the coup and called for Condé’s release.

The 83-year-old Condé is no democrat.

The 83-year-old Condé is no democrat. His second presidential term was characterized by increasing authoritarianism. Notably, he orchestrated a fraudulent third term in October 2020 after manipulating the constitutional two-term limit through a rigged referendum in March 2020, brutally suppressing peaceful protests in the process. The AU and ECOWAS failed to denounce this effective constitutional coup. This reluctance to stand up to such self-coups has fed a strong sense of hypocrisy and undermined these organizations’ standing when denouncing military coups.

Indeed, the regional and international condemnation contrasts with the celebrations of the coup in Guinea. Prominent civil society and opposition leaders, notably Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost the 2020 presidential election to Condé, have welcomed the coup as a necessary evil to reverse the country’s descent into autocracy.

Ironically, amid a coup, and even with the possibility of a counter-coup, the country is probably less tense now than in the past several months. Several military checkpoints have already been dismantled, particularly in areas of Conakry opposed to Condé.

The coup leaders seem to be saying and doing all the right things so far. Political prisoners have been released, and the main opposition party has been allowed to access its headquarters, after being blocked for months by Condé’s regime. Even some former ruling party officials and supporters........

© Foreign Policy


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