By Munir Umrani
The African Union (AU) has rightly condemned the December 23, 2008, coup in the West African nation of Guinea. See “AU warns Guinea's renegade troops of 'stern measures'.” Hopefully, no nation will recognize the military government that installed itself after the December 22, 2008, death of Guinean President Lansana Conte, who came to power in a coup on April 3, 1984.
The U. S. State Department and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have called for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power. So has Canada. The European Union has also condemned the coup and called for a peaceful transfer of power. See “Guinean coup meets with int'l condemnations.” Every government on the African continent should do the same in their individual capacities and not just under the cover of the AU or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has condemned the coup.
As Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC) stated in a December 23, 2008, press release:
This seizure of power constitutes a flagrant violation of the Guinean Constitution, which, in such an instance, provides that the Speaker of the National Assembly assumes the interim. It constitutes also a violation of the Lome Declaration of July 2000, the Constitutive Act of the AU and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
By the way, according to Agence France Press (AFP):
The coup bid in Guinea is sowing fears of destabilising its fragile west African neighbours -- notably former war-torn Liberia and Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), still gripped by political crisis.
All three nations are on heightened alert as coup leaders tighten their grip in Guinea, declaring a nationwide curfew on Wednesday [December 24, 2008] and ruling out elections for the next two years.
See “Liberia & Sierra Leone Take Border Precautions as...:Coup in Guinea” for more on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast’s concerns. Also see Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s December 23, 2008, “statement On Guinea as head of the Mano River Union.”
If the current coup, led by Captain Mussa Dadis Camara, succeeds, the danger is that, military officials in other African countries may get the notion that they can go back to changing governments through coups. That should not be allowed. African nations will not prosper under military dictatorships or corrupt civilian leaders, as we’ve already witnessed.
Here’s how Mr. Camara, who is not supported by all generals in the Guinean military, tries to justify the coup:
Dear fellow countrymen,
At the time of celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence on 2 October, Guinea was ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world despite its abundant natural resources.
Guinea could have been more prosperous. Unfortunately, history and men have decided otherwise.
Embezzlement of public funds, general corruption, impunity established as a method of government and anarchy in the management of state affairs have eventually plunged our country into a catastrophic economic situation which is particularly tragic for the overwhelming majority of Guineans.
The members of the current cabinet are mainly responsible for such unprecedented social and economic crises.
Similarly, the republican institutions' failure to commit themselves to the search for solutions to the crisis and implement the provisions of the constitution confirms the dysfunction of the government.
Indeed, we have noted a lack of political will from the so-called broad-based government to initiate the necessary reforms to solve such a serious and permanent crisis that affects all sectors of the country, namely: The government's obvious failure to provide basic social services such as water and electricity
The marginalization of youths and women in the decision-making process
The worsening insecurity in the entire country and the general corruption in the administration
A fresh upsurge of drug trafficking throughout the country
The government's flat refusal to further review mining agreements for fear of harming the personal and selfish interests of some government officials, lobby groups and Mafia-like clans
The failure to prosecute people involved in embezzlement of public funds
Arbitrary appointments to key government positions
The government's lack of political will to hold free and transparent elections for a year now
The fact that some lobby groups have taken the government to ransom, preventing the government from initiating the necessary customs, fiscal, and monetary reforms that are necessary for an economic recovery of the country.
All these woes have been worrying the population for a long time and have caused deep despair for the future of the entire Guinea people in general and especially for the Guinean youth.
For all these reasons, a National Council for Democracy and Development, (CNDD), has decided to end the agony of the Guinea people.
In order to preserve national unity, ensure the economic development of our country, and lay the foundations of a true democracy based on the rule of law in which all the citizens are prosperous, equal and enjoy free movement in all security and at all times, as from today, the constitution is suspended.
All political and trade union activities are also suspended.
Similarly, the government and the republican institutions are dissolved.
In the coming days, a National Transitional Consultative Council made up of soldiers and civilians will be set up, taking into account the ethnic balance.
It will be chaired by a president.
The council will be in charge of leading and supervising the transition to enable the restoration of state authority, the fight against corruption, and the holding of transparent elections.
A prime minister - head of government - vested with all the constitutional powers will be appointed.
His mission will be, among others:
To fight corruption
To restore state authority and public administration
To ensure the actual liberalization of airwaves throughout the national territory
To initiate a constitutional amendment
To provide basic services of water, electricity, and health care to the people.
These measures will guarantee a peaceful transition in the highest interest of the Guinean nation.
Dear compatriots, to reach our objectives and set our country on the path of a rebirth, we will need courage, patriotism, and a lot of sacrifice.
Let us be proud as on 2 Oct 1958 [Guinea's Independence day] and let us show the rest of the world that, once more, Guinea can set an example of a successful democracy and an enviable country on the path of development.
We are all in a competition to attain the same goal: to achieve the well-being of the Guinean people.
We call on all the military and paramilitary forces to ensure the security of citizens and their property.
We also call on the people to back its army that has always heeded its calls.
Long live the people of Guinea!
Long live national unity!
Long live the republic!
(Source: BBC News Africa)
By the way, If the coup is not crushed, I predict that it is just a matter of time before the 32-member national council named to run the country starts killing Guinean citizens and each other. Some Guineans reportedly have welcomed the coup.