President Alpha Condé’s unwillingness to give up power set the stage for a military takeover on 5 September. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Vincent Foucher and Rinaldo Depagne show how this latest coup d’état is part of a worrying trend in West Africa.
Under mounting street pressure and lack of agreement with regional body ECOWAS over transition’s duration, ruling junta dissolved main opposition coalition, replaced PM and revamped cabinet. Following several anti-junta protests since June, Justice Minister Charles Wright 2 Aug directed public prosecutor’s office to begin legal proceedings against coalition of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups, National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), on charges of “defamation”, “dissemination of false information likely to endanger public peace and security”, and “complicity of murder”. Interim govt 6 Aug dissolved FNDC by decree, citing threat to “national unity, public peace and cohabitation”. Despite regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 15 Aug dispatching official to meet with FNDC in effort to appease tensions, some clashes 17 Aug erupted between law enforcement and youths on outskirts of capital Conakry, reportedly leaving two dead, a few dozen injured or arrested. ECOWAS-appointed mediator, Benin’s former President Boni Yayi, 21-27 Aug visited capital Conakry to rekindle negotiations with junta leaders on transition’s duration and facilitate political dialogue between junta, political parties and civil society; upon departure, Boni said parties will continue discussions “in order to agree on a timetable and content for the transition that is accepted by all”. At ECOWAS’ request, FNDC 26 Aug reportedly suspended protests scheduled in Conakry for 29 Aug and 4 Sept, but maintained nationwide demonstration planned on 5 Sept. Meanwhile, PM Mohamed Béavogui, who has been in Italy since mid-July, 12 Aug said he would return to Guinea once his medical condition improves. Amid rumours that his absence stems from disagreements with interim President Col Doumbouya over transition timeline, latter 20 Aug appointed acting PM Bernard Gomou to permanently fill PM position as Béavogui’s replacement. Doumbouya same day also reshuffled cabinet ahead of first anniversary of 5 Sept putsch that overthrew former President Condé.
Guinea approaches the second free presidential election in its history under difficult circumstances. Unless the government convenes a serious dialogue with the opposition, it risks electoral violence and exacerbating ethnic divisions.
Vincent Foucher, Crisis Group’s West Africa Senior Analyst, draws attention to the complex and problematic electoral process in Guinea, now faced with the additional threat of the Ebola epidemic, causing tensions between the government and the opposition party in agreeing a date for upcoming elections.