Two weeks after Guinea’s Coup, which saw Lieutenant Col Mamady Doumbouya overthrow the Alpha Conde regime, little has subsequently changed. There is no government and no transitional charter, which Doumbouya argues will be issued after a serious of national consultations. Further, the country has been suspended by the West African bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has seen two coups orchestrated in the region in the past 6 months.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Stephanie Walters, senior research fellow at the south African based Institute for security studies, argued that the coup was worrisome, but noted that Conde’s term in office was itself contested. “We did have in Guinea, a government that was highly contested. The government of Conde had been facing popular protests over a number of different things, attempts to extend mandates.” She did note that ECOWAS was one of the most “principled” on the continent in responding to extraconstitutional changes in power. Further, ECOWAS also responded to events in Guinea in a context wherein a similar coup within a coup was orchestrated in Mali in May. ECOWAS has thus instituted travel and financial sanctions on the coup leaders.
Meanwhile in Mali, the military controlled government has concluded an agreement with the Russian Wagner group, which is opposed by France and most of the Western world. Wagner, Walters noted, operates in areas such as Libya and the Central African Republic, where government is contested. Further, the group, is akin to a mercenary group, but is very closely linked to the Putin regime. “We call it a mercenary group because essentially it is soldiers for higher, and it lacks transparency. We don’t really know what the accountability of the soldiers are, and we know that in Africa, those types of organizations often get involved in human rights violations, in illegal activities that we really don’t want.“
The Malian government has opposed this growing opposition, arguing that it was in contravention of the country’s sovereignty. Walters did also note that the government in office now is different to the one which supported France’s now failed intervention in the country since 2013.
Last, in Rwanda, repression has become ever more saliant with the conviction of Kagame critic Paul Rusesabagina on ‘terror’ related charges. Rusesabagina, who was made famous for his role in saving ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide in the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Rusesabagina was one of 21 facing charges and was kidnapped from a UAE flight enroute to Burundi to face trial. “of course, we know that Rusesabagina is only the latest in a very long line of political opponents with Paul Kagame who have either faced these highly politicized trials or who’ve in fact, been assassinated as numerous critics have been assassinated in South Africa even.