ALPHA CONDE, 83, PRESIDENT OF GUINEA, until last Sunday, must have thought that manipulating the country’s constitution and electoral process, which gave him third term victory last year, and perhaps, becoming the country’s life president; he was reaching for the moon. Rather, the electoral process that he manipulated that returned him for third term in office, evoked widespread condemnation from virtually every section of the country.
Sunday, September 5, 2021, a group of soldiers were seen in a viral video, surrounding Conde, perhaps, in his residence, indicating that he must have been captured by soldiers, who had announced that his government has been toppled by a military coup. This was after hours of reported gunfire in the capital, Conakry, and the streets were deserted.
Before Conde was booted out of office, there were allegations of mismanagement of the country’s economy, corruption, gross intimidation of opposition and right activists, and abuse of human rights, under his watch. He was himself becoming restive, because of seemingly strained relationship between him and the country’s former colonial master, France.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL MAMADY DOUMBOUYA, 41, is the man in charge of Guinea, after he led a unit of the country’s elite soldiers to oust Alpha Conde from office. Giving reasons for the military takeover, he said the army had little choice due to rampant corruption, disregard for human rights and economic mismanagement under Alpha Conde.
After the takeover of government, on Sunday, Colonel Doumbouya confirmed to the media that the country’s president Alpha Condé was being held by his forces. “The president is with us, he’s in a safe place”. He’s seen a doctor there’s no problem.” And added that: “The whole army is here, from Nzérékoré to Conakry, to help build this country.”
December 2020, Conde took oath of office for a controversial third term, after the disputed election that opposition said were marred by violence and manipulation. The opposition had condemned Conde’s taking part in the October 18, 2020, election. They said his participation was an abuse of power by the president, and against the peoples wish.
The violence that erupted during the election claimed 21 lives, according to government official figures. But the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guineas, UFDA, party in the country, said the death toll was 46. Cellou Daein Diallo, Conde’s main challenger and other opposition candidates alleged that there were irregularities during the election, which official results showed that Conde won by 59.5 percent of the votes.
November 2020, Guinea’s constitutional court rejected allegations of irregularities in the controversial election and affirmed Conde’s victory. That set the tone of likely unpleasant consequences of the highly disputed election. Election Observers from African countries backed the official results of the election. But France, European Union and the United States seriously doubted the credibility of the election results.
Conde’s swearing-in ceremony was attended by number of African leaders. His inaugural address appealed for calm, peace and unity in the country. His words: “I urge everyone of you to forget the divisive past and turn towards a future of unity and hope”. And added: “Everyone must uphold the law and ban violence from their words and acts so that our country remains a community of freedom and responsibility”.
POLITICAL ANALYSTS believe Conde was speaking from both “sides of his mouths”, when he called on the people to embrace peace and unity, and urged “everyone to forget the divisive past and turn towards a future of unity and hope”, after his claimed victory at the poll. They said Conde himself, truncated democracy in the country by manipulating the country’s constitution and the electoral process to stay in power for the third term.
Conde, analysts said, rubbed the people of their right to elect a leader of their choice in a bid to perpetuate himself in office. He planned, hatched and manipulated the electoral process to suit his third term bid to the presidency, at all cost, at the age of 83, and he got it – including causing the deaths of citizens during the election, arrested opposition leaders and civil society activists. He deserved no pity, they noted.
The lesson of increasing military takeover of power in some African countries, according to analysts, for sit-tight leaders in Africa, who alienates themselves from the people; and who for selfish reasons and ambition, manipulates electoral process for free, fair and credible elections in their countries, need to note that: “the people will sit in judgement over such rulers”, and that the change of government whatever form it takes becomes inevitable. Power is transient, no one holds on to it for too long.
While condemnation trails the military takeover of power in Guinea, Guineans seemed to welcome the change and are romancing with the coupist. There were jubilation in the streets of the capital, Conakry, by Guineans after the takeover of power, in support of the coupist, who believed they took over power to right the wrongs President Conde inflicted on the country and its people.
Military intervention in democracy is an aberration. And never needed to be encouraged or welcomed. But the root causes of such interventions must be addressed and avoided by African leaders. Elections must be won free, fair, credible and square. No electoral victory should be hinged in electoral broken blocks – incompletely won through the ballot box, but completely won in the law courts.
Democratic leadership in African countries needed to provide dividend of democracy – among which are transparency in governance, rule of law, respect for the peoples right to democratically, freely and transparently make changes in leadership of their countries through free, fair and credible elections. Africa’s democratically elected leaders must be servant leaders. The electorates who elected them into office are their boss. They hold their positions in trust, and on behalf of the electorates.