A few months after Maliou Chad, it is Guinea’s turn to be the scene of a coup. Sunday evening, coup plotters let it be known that they had captured President Alpha Condé. After announcing the dissolution of the institutions, the putschists convened this Monday the outgoing ministers and the presidents of the institutions for a meeting at the People’s Palace, seat of the Parliament, in order to say a little more about the sequence of events.
If the coup d’état was celebrated by some in the streets of the capital in Conakry, it was at the same time strongly condemned by the international community, worried about this coup whose contours are still vague.
Sunday morning, the crackling of automatic weapons is heard on the Kaloum peninsula, in central Conakry, where the presidency, institutions and business offices sit. No deaths are noted and, at first, the situation remains confused, the authorities giving little explanation of the incident. At the beginning of the afternoon, the Ministry of Defense claims to have “repelled” the attack by special forces against the presidency. But shortly after, the Guinean special forces claim to have captured President Alpha Condé and announce “dissolving” the institutions. Calls for the president’s release from the international community will change nothing: Sunday evening, special forces controlled Conakry and held Alpha Condé prisoner.
Was this putsch predictable?
“We did not expect it”, notes Caroline Roussy, researcher at Iris (Institute of International and Strategic Relations), specialist in West Africa. “If we compare to the one that occurred in August 2020 in Mali, there had previously been large demonstrations, witnessing a coagulation of discontent and a civil tidal wave. In Guinea, lately, there have been no similar indicators, although the socio-political and socio-economic degradation was being felt, there were no elements which seemed to go in this direction. “Thus, despite the wealth of Guinea’s subsoil, more than half of the population lives below the poverty line, with less than one euro a day, according to the UN.
What do the putschists blame President Condé for?
Everything started well for Alpha Condé, the very first democratically elected president in 2010, when the country had until then been under the control of authoritarian, even dictatorial regimes. The one who presented himself as the “candidate of women and young people” is now accused of having plunged his country into crisis to cling to power. Indeed, Alpha Condé has been strongly criticized since its constitutional revision adopted by referendum in March 2020. “This sleight of hand allowed him to run for a third term,” explains Caroline Roussy.
His candidacy had provoked, before and after the election, months of tension which caused dozens of deaths in bloody suppressed protests. The election was also marked by the arrest of dozens of opponents. His main challenger, Cellou Dalein Diallo, and three other candidates had denounced “ballot stuffing” and irregularities of all kinds during the ballot.
Who are the putschists?
Less than 24 hours after the putsch, we still have very little information on all the entities behind the coup. “We only know, at this stage, that it is the unit commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya which organized the coup,” observes Caroline Roussy. “In 2018, he was presented, with strength and honor on the part of President Condé, for his expertise in anti-terrorist special forces. It was at this time that Guineans discovered his face, ”recalls the expert.
Until then little known, this soldier presented as the leader of the putschists was trained in France at the Foreign Legion and the War School, but also in Israel, Senegal and Gabon. This forties is married to a French woman and father of three children, according to Guinean media. Holder of a master’s degree in defense and industrial dynamics from the Parisian University of Panthéon-Assas, he was keen to come to terms with the image of a violent and uncontrollable soldier, like the previous putschists that the country has known.
What will happen now?
“For the moment there have been a few scenes of jubilation, but that does not mean that it is representative of public opinion, warns a researcher at Iris. Caution must remain in the future of the country. “In a speech on Sunday, the latter indeed assured that the special forces did not come to” joke with power “or to” play “:” We will learn from all the mistakes we made. “
“Are the political parties going to join these soldiers? Because even if there is a repeal of the Constitution, it is necessary. And even if there is an abrogation of the institutions, it is necessary all the same. We have to recreate all that, but with which partners? Which actors will position themselves, how, knowing that for the time being rare are the members of the opposition to have expressed themselves ”, notes Caroline Roussy. For now, Mamady Doumbouya has simply promised Monday the establishment of a “government of national unity” responsible for leading a period of political “transition”.
A speech aims to reassure the population, but also the international community, which “mostly condemned the coup and could put pressure”, recalls Caroline Roussy. Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya promised the partners of Guinea, a major producer of bauxite and minerals, that the country “will respect all its obligations, [ainsi que les] mining agreements, and reiterates its commitment to promote foreign investment in the country ”. “A cycle is coming to an end. Now is the time for transition with its share of uncertainties, ”concludes the expert.