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Monthly Archives: October 2021

Concerns with the Coup in Guinea


On September 5th military leader Doumbouya blocked off roads and took the capital by force. He removed President Conde as President. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price opposed the rise to power of Doumbouya and the military. Additionally, the UN states call for the release of the president from the custody emplaced by Doumbouya.

Taking a moment to reflect on the history of Guinea, we remember that it did not reach independence until the mid-1900s. It was a French colony but in 1958 had its first elected leader. A single party then ruled Guinea for more than 25 years. The country was less democratic but maintained relative stability for a couple of years; however, this ended when a military group led to the disbandment of government in 1984. A new constitution was established in 1991, bringing increased democratic methods to the country, such as the election of legislators and presidents. Conte was the elected president. In 2001 he used his role as president to extend his rule by changing the constitution to extend presidential terms. After he died in 2008, the military once again took over, disbanding the legislation. In 2010 a new President was elected: President Conde. However, on September 5th of this new year, the military initiated another coup.

The ruling in Guinea shows a pattern: first ruling, then corruption of the leader, followed by a military coup. Doumbouya declared that military interference was necessary to combat the alleged corruption of the current leader. President Conde was serving a third term as president but had to change the constitution to do so. Guineans elected him in 2010 in the first democratic election in Guinea, and in 2020 sent the constitution to a referendum to change the term limits. While in the presidency, he promised to change the lack of economic opportunity and corruption, but his policies and works had mixed results. While he did create a dam, it displaced thousands of people. Additionally, the presidency oppressed political dissent. AfroBarometer shows increased perception of corruption in the Guinea government at the end of his rule.

Doumbouya used these actions of corruption to justify his coup. He stated, “If people are crushed by elites, it is up to the army to give them their freedom.” When Doumbouya took over, many citizens went to the streets to celebrate the takedown of a corrupt government; however, several citizens described the chaos and fear that now exists within the country. If Doumbouya did not create a coup, then would the president ever have left office? If history does repeat itself, then the answer would be no.

Since the takeover, the world has not received much input on what this new government will be. Doumbouya and other military leaders declare that the new nation and new constitution will unify the country of 13.5 million citizens. Doumbouya also says he will bring Guinea back to constitutional order, carefully defining the transition period, institute political reforms before elections, and list which people will help lead these transitions. However, these are promises and lack seeable actions. If Guinea continues in its old pattern, a leader will retain the presidency and will not want to give up the presidential seat; however, there is always a possibility that the new government will break old habits.

In a transition to new leadership, Guinea joined two other countries in West Africa that have had coups this year. The president of Chad was killed on the battlefield and replaced with his son. Academics call this a “covert coup.” In Mali, there was also a coup in May. The Vice President arrested the president. Guinea is the third coup in a year. There is a concern that coups are again on the rise—following the pattern of past West Africa, in which one country's coup set a precedent and motivation for others to follow.

The coup causes concern for many other political players in Africa. This concern is evident through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspension of Guinea in decision-making bodies due to the coup. Additionally, ECOWAS calls for a civilian-led transition rather than military leadership in times of transition. The concern of this organization reiterates the same fear that this coup could lead to others. Additionally, the Washington Post states that other neighboring countries have expressed their opinions condemning the current coup and are calling for Conde’s release. Specifically, Nigeria’s government condemns the actions of Doumbouya.

As we further widen our scope out of the continent of Africa, we see the economic influences of this coup. The country is a leader in bauxite—a key source of aluminum—meaning that disruptions in Guinea could disrupt prices and the State's economic status.

In conclusion, the coup in Guinea could bring increased democracy, but also causes challenges to the economy, democracy, and stability. Finally, it affects the countries near it, possibly setting a precedent for creating a coup when disagreeing with the government.