Guinea junta’s honeymoon is over

There has been little popular resistance to the coup that overthrew Guinea president Alpha Condé last year. In shredding the Constitution to secure a third term, Condé had overstayed his welcome, and few were sad to see him go. But this is changing, with Mamady Doumbouya, the colonel-president who installed himself in power, now facing some uncomfortable questions. 

“There is a desire to harm political leaders,” said Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the main opposition party the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea. 

On 28 February, Diallo, the former prime minister and presidential candidate, was evicted from his Conakry residence, which he purchased from the state in 1996. Sidya Touré, the leader of the Union of Republican Forces, was evicted from his villa in the capital. The junta says this is part of a broader campaign to reclaim state assets. 

The opposition leaders have denounced it as an injustice designed to weaken them. The issue sparked protests on the streets of suburban Conakry, followed by a brief clash with law enforcement. 

Another controversy was sparked by the junta’s decision to rename Conakry’s international airport to honour the country’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré

To some, Touré is a liberation hero, but to others he was a brutal dictator. Similarly, the return to the country of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and General Sékouba Konaté — even though it was just for a few days — provoked widespread outrage. The two masterminded the 2008 coup, and are allegedly responsible for the 2009 stadium massacre in which more than 150 people were killed and more than 100 women raped. 

Human rights groups do not understand why Camara and Konate were not arrested. “We should have taken advantage of the presence of these two defendants to organise a trial in order to reconcile Guinea with itself,” said Halimatou Camara, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist. 

Looming over all these issues is the big question: when, or if, the junta will hand over power to a civilian government. So far, there has been no official timetable. “The junta must put an end to this distancing and come out of its ivory tower,” said political scientist Kabinet Fofana.

This article first appeared in The Continent, the award-winning pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here.

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