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.
Military govt granted pardon to alleged coup plotters, while international community voiced concern over media repression.
Military officers pardoned of alleged coup attempt. Govt 2 Jan released video detailing coup attempt allegedly undertaken by two senior military officers at unclear date several months ago, which govt did not report at the time; pair admitted to attempting to overthrow transitional President Col. Doumbouya but were granted presidential pardon without official trial, amid lack of clarity over incident. Uncertainty around constitutional referendum persisted. Govt 23 Jan announced Doumbouya elevated to rank of general amid continuing doubts over domestic political future after he used 31 Dec New Year’s address to announce plans to hold constitutional referendum in 2024 as part of transition to civilian rule. Announcement came hours after deposed President Condé 31 Dec released video stating his intention to return to country and “re-establish democracy and constitutional order”. International community voiced concern over repressive govt tactics. After Dec crackdown on critical media, diplomats representing country’s most important partners in Conakry (including U.S., EU and China) 10 Jan expressed dissatisfaction with military govt’s restrictions on internet, social media and press; in response, govt in following days cited national security concerns and need to capture revenue generated by social media, while saying restrictions would end “very soon”. Media regulator, High Authority of Communication (HAC), 17 Jan suspended website Dépêche Guinée for nine months, and prohibited publishing director Abdoul Latif Diallo from “creating or providing his services to a news organisation” for six months. NGO Committee to Protect Journalists 31 Jan urged authorities to “immediately roll back the wave of censorship efforts unleashed on the press in recent months”.
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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