December 5, 2022

After 10 months of military control, Guinean acting president Colonel Mamady Doumbouya still expected to transition nation toward democracy

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya
Colonel Mamady Doumbouya

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya is a high-ranking Guinean military officer who has been in power as the nation’s acting president since leading a September 5, 2021 coup d’etat during which he broadcasted to the people of Guinea that he was dissolving the nation’s constitution and replacing the existing government.

After 10 months since the coup d’etat, Guinea’s neighboring nations and international partners are growing increasingly insistent that a practical and pragmatic plan for transitioning to democracy be put in place.

The former president, Alpha Condé, was the first elected head of state in Guinea’s history but was widely criticized and received immense pushback after changing Guinea’s constitution to allow himself a third term in power. Special forces commander Mamady Doumbouya led a coup d’état to overthrow the president and on October 1 officially became the acting president of the transitional government. 

At just 42 years of age, Doumbouya is amongst the youngest state leaders in Africa. Born in Guinea’s Kankan region, has been a member of the military for his whole adult life. For some time, he was a French legionnaire before returning to his home nation of Guinea.

While the United States had expressed concerns over “democratic backsliding” during Condé’s presidency, it condemned the 2021 coup d’état. According to the United States Department of State, “U.S. policy seeks to help Guinea to rapidly hold free and fair elections that quickly return Guinea to constitutional, civilian-led, democracy.” 

While Guinea’s military-led transitional council has promised a transition to democratic elections and civilian rule in the future, a specific date or timeline has yet to be determined. In May, Doumbouya proposed a 39 month transitional period which was rejected by opposition parties for being excessively long. Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States have rejected a three year time period, asserting that Guinea will face economic sanctions if a new timetable is not proposed by the end of July.

The nation of Guinea has been trending quickly downward on Freedom House’s annual world freedom index. Falling from a 2019 freedom score, Guinea received a score of just 34 in 2022. This year, it is classified as “not free” after previously being “partly free” in years prior.

While Guinea under the rule of former president Alpha Condé was characterized by ethnic division, corruption, intolerance of dissent dissent, and the abuse of civilians, many worry that the humanitarian and human rights situations in the West African nation have not improved.

“In Guinea, we continue to urge the transition government to move the country quickly toward a constitutional, civilian-led democracy through a transparent and consultative process,” said U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday.

The summit of the Economic Community of West African States decided Sunday to lift financial and economic sanctions that had previously been placed on Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso. All three of these nations are controlled by military-led governments but ECOWAS has been pleased by recent indications that they are looking to transition toward democracy.

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