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.
Junta continued to restrict press freedom and fundamental rights; ECOWAS court of justice ordered release of deposed President Condé-era ministers.
Crackdown on journalists sparked outcry from opposition. Union of journalists (SPPG) 16 Oct held demonstration in capital Conakry calling on authorities to lift restrictions on privately-owned news website Guinee Matin, which has been inaccessible within Guinea since mid-Aug; police and gendarmerie enforced ban on protests and dispersed rally, reportedly injuring three journalists and arresting a dozen, who were freed later that day but charged with “participating in an unlawful assembly”. Opposition movements Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, Union of Republican Forces, and National Front for the Defence of the Constitution immediately condemned crackdown and restrictions imposed by junta on fundamental freedoms. Deposed President Alpha Condé’s Rally of the Guinean People 21 Oct followed suit, calling for “coalition of forces” to protect journalists. Telecommunications Minister Ousmane Gaoual Diallo 17 Oct announced defamation suit against Sec Gen of journalist union, Sékou Jamal Pendessa, who accused Gaoual Diallo of engineering restrictions on Guinee Matin. SPPG 29 Oct announced plans to hold new march on 6 Nov.
In another important development. Court of Justice of West African regional bloc ECOWAS 16 Oct ruled continued detentions of former PM Ibrahima Kassory Fofana and two Condé-era ministers were “arbitrary”, ordered their immediate release; authorities have three months to comply with judgement.
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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