Colonel Mamady Doumboya at the parade celebrating the anniversary of the independence of Guinea on October 2, 2021. Photo credit: Aboubacarkhoraa on Wikimedia Commons

Barely a month after executing a coup d’etat, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya is sworn in as interim president to Guinea

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) suspend Guinea, calling for an immediate return to constitutional rule.

On September 6, Guinea oversaw a political transition after ex-president Alpha Condé was held under detention in an unclear, but safe location. His detainment followed a military coup staged to end rampant corruption and human rights abuses in the West African nation. The movement that has been greatly condemned, despite the contentment exhibited from a majority of Guineans.

Since the coup, ECOWAS has demanded the release of Condé. To further restrictive measures, they have also imposed a travel ban on and have frozen the financial assets of military coup leaders. Moreover, the AU also suspended Guinea from all activities and decision-making bodies. On the other end, these actions were greatly opposed by a number of citizens and leaders challenging the role played by the governing body.

“Where was ECOWAS when Alpha Condé was changing the Constitution?” Activist Ibrahima Sory Mara lamented. “Where was ECOWAS when Alpha Condé wanted to run for a third term? Where was ECOWAS when the people of Guinea were suffering injustice, inequality?”

In fear of past events repeating, the member state’s representatives appealed for elections to take place in six months. A move that could be triggered by the fact that this is the fourth time the region has witnessed an attempt to undermine democracy since August 2020. To support the complaints, military and coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya faced the representatives of the regional blocks without concession. He affirmed that “the only timeline valued is that of the Guinean people who have suffered so much.”

In respect to the demands, Doumbouya has been sworn in as the new president of Guinea promising to “respect all the national and international commitments to which the country has subscribed.” As it stands, he will serve for an unclear transitional period. Be that as it may, the date of elections remains undefined.

Yet, this is not the first time the country experienced the ambiance of a coup. In 2008, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power and announced that he planned to rule the country for two years prior to a new presidential election. In 2010, Camara stepped down after Condé was elected.

The coup in question

Guinea has been on a stormy road of political instability, experiencing rivalries between ethnic groups and delayed elections. Not only this, but it is rich in minerals such as gold and bauxite. Nonetheless, many Guineans survive in the shackles of poverty. To worsen matters, Condé was linked with a corruption scandal, whereby an international consortium bought bauxite mining rights near the city of Boké in West Guinea.

Due to similar events, on September 6, Doumbouya, the leader of an elite counter-terrorism unit, dissolved the government. Concurrently, he held a meeting with ministers from the dethroned Republic and warned them from leaving the country. They were also given orders to give up their official federal vehicles whilst Condé’s security team were ordered to turn themselves in. The move was openly supported by the public who camouflaged the streets in merriment, chanting the new leader’s name in approval.

We are behind Doumbouya, we still support him. Good luck to him because he will properly sort out the country,” an unnamed citizen blissfully expressed. 

In addition, the opposition to Condé, led by former Guinean prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, backed the sentiments. Even though it is against his belief, he asserted that Condé seized power by violating the constitution and oath. As well, Condé has also been blamed for rampant poverty in Guinea.

Although the celebratory mood reigned, others critiqued life under military rule expressing that, “the uncertain atmosphere in the city of Conakry is already scary, but staying late at the market is even scarier, we are afraid because a military man is always a military man, he has no friends.” 

A history of political Instability

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Guinea ex-president, Alpha Conde, and Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. Photo credit: Official White House archival photo by Amanda Lucidon

In October 2020, Condé was re-elected for a third presidential term becoming the only fairly elected president in Guinea. Not only did he promise to be Guinea’s version of Nelson Mandela, but he might have oversold his political charm during the second presidential campaign. 

While giving a press release, Condé expressed his political history and ambition, expounding that he fought for 50 years to bring democracy to Guinea. “I want the elections in Guinea to be model elections, and for this nobody can be prevented from taking part,” he said.

“He does not respect the constitution and exercises control of everything. People are scared of him,” Mustapha Balde confirmed. According to some civilians, they thought Condé would bring hope, but instead exposed his true colours. “[T]hey are either getting arrested or killed.”  

In line with Diallo’s allegations, elections were ringed with controversy attested to constitutional reform manipulated by Condé. In spite of the cries of scandal, Condé moved forward. His inauguration ran parallel to protests, leading to numerous deaths and arrests. His defiance to step down from the presidential seat caused bloodstained violence between security forces and demonstrators. Many have been convicted unlawfully.

Hence, the coup ideology has become quite prevalent in the region—a cause that might explain why Condé thought he could get away with said illegalities. For instance, the neighboring Burkina Faso tops the list with seven coups, as Mali foresaw a second coup in nine months early this year.

Moreover, subsequent to the coup, about 80 political prisoners who had been detained during Condé’s Government were released. Around 400 people were imprisoned during protests in 2020. In some ways, this is a sign of restoring unity, as promised in the cleansing of the state.

 . . .

Colonel Doumbaya has been cheered on by Guineans for his recent overthrow of President Alpha Condé. He celebrates Guinea’s independence from France which took place October 2, 1958 under the leadership of Sekou Toure. Guinea was the only former West African French colony that opted for complete independence from France. Toure was critical of the alliances of the U.S. with former African colonial powers and white racist South African regime, thus he allied with the Soviet and Cuba. Since, Guinea has struggled for economic stability and security. Photo credit: Aboubacarkhoraa on Wikimedia Commons

As the country goes into governance under Doumbouya, his intentions remain uncertain. In comparison to past events and also his appointment into office by Condé, one cannot stop to doubt if this was a calculated betrayal. Guineans wait patiently to see a new Guinea with fair-minded elections and economic stability. The new Government will be accountable.

All things considered, citizens have seen the new interim president’s move as a necessary evil. Thus, it is better to try and fail with a new leader than never try at all and get stuck with corruption.

Nyawira Mithayo is a Journalism graduate with an interest in Community activism.

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