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.
Armed individuals broke former military ruler out of prison, sparking military purges and suggesting that President Doumbouya faces opposition from within armed forces.
High-level prison escape sparked manhunt. Armed men 4 Nov stormed prison in capital Conakry, freeing former strongman Moussa Dadis Camara and three close associates on trial since last year for 2009 Conakry stadium massacre; authorities said nine people, including two civilians, were killed during breakout. Security forces later same day recaptured Dadis and two other officials, who claimed incident was kidnapping rather than breakout. Govt 5 Nov said last escapee, former minister of presidential security Col. Claude Pivi, was still at large and accused his son of leading breakout. Security forces 6 Nov conducted intensive search for Pivi in Conakry neighbourhoods known to be sympathetic to deposed President Condé. Conakry stadium massacre trial resumed 13 Nov in Pivi’s absence.
Breakout led to purges in military, pointing to divisions within regime. Govt 5 Nov announced removal of over 60 soldiers, gendarmes, and prison officials suspected of involvement in prison breakout; also announced legal proceedings against some for abandonment of post and violation of orders. Breakout reportedly featured fighting between Special Forces, formerly led by interim President Col. Doumbouya, and Autonomous Battalion of Airborne Troops (BATA), of which Col. Pivi was once a member; both units reportedly also clashed in September 2021 during Doumbouya’s coup against Condé. Doumbouya 14 Nov sacked four senior military officers, next day appointed new head of BATA.
In other important developments. Justice Minister Charles Wright 20 Nov announced investigation into Condé for treason; Condé 22 Nov said Wright had “lost his bearings” due to Pivi’s escape.
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.
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