WARN Policy Brief: Transitional crisis in Guinea - Coup d'état: Its inevitability, legitimizing factors & lessons for Africa

Originally published



Following the death of Guinea's ailing President General Lansana Conté, history repeated itself twenty four years after as the military have staged yet another coup. General Lansana Conté's death was formally announced by the President of the National Assembly, El-Hadj Aboubacar Somparé, who called on the Supreme Court to formally declare a power vacuum and formalize a constitutional transition, and also tasked the military to man the country's borders. Barely six hours after, the army led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara swiftly staged a bloodless putsch. In a state broadcast on radio and television, the 44 year old putsch leader announced the dissolution of the Government, suspension of the Constitution and creation of a thirty-two man governing council- Conseil National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (CNDD in similar manner to what Lansana Conte did 24 years ago).

Initial claims by the civilian government that they were still in charge completely died on Christmas day when Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré succumbed to the ultimatum by the new junta requesting all former members of government and senior 'loyalist' military officers to surrender themselves to the junta headquarters at the Alpha Yaya military barracks. The Prime Minister finally 'legitimized' the coup by responding to the junta summon, pledging total allegiance to the new regime.

International reaction to the events in Guinea has been mixed and cautious. While the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), European Union (EU), and key world powers have called for a return to constitutional order, there seem to have been calls from other circles, notably President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, to recognize the new rulers of Guinea. The reaction from Guinea's political class, trade unions, as well as the masses has been that of endorsement of the coup leaders as the legal constitutional succession bid has suddenly died prematurely. The dilemma posed is how to reconcile between legality (a stance defended by ECOWAS, AU, UN and international community) and legitimacy enjoyed by the junta (with the support of the masses and influential section of the political class in Guinea).

This policy brief therefore:

- Attempts a critical analysis of the peculiarities of the present coup in Guinea and examines what makes it exceptionally popular that is has been largely welcomed by the major Guinean masses and major political and opinion leaders;

- Identifies the major issues at stake and their leverage on peace and stability in Guinea in the coming days;

- Envisages possible scenarios within the next six months; here we posit that the realistic case scenario is very likely, given the realities in Guinea today and informed by the unique history of the country.

- Finally, the brief proposes possible options for response (recommendations) and concludes that Guinea's political demise should be an eye opener for Africa.