By Julio Morejon Tartabull
Journalist of the International Newsroom of Prensa Latina
The sub-regional bloc proposed a two-year period for holding elections and returning authority to a civilian government, but the Guinean military administration continues to suggest that the period should be three years.
Establishing a citizens’ executive is a promise no one questions, but returning it to power requires consensual considerations that are pending and that the military is not currently on the agenda, observers say.
Recently, Guinean Minister Mory Condé denied the existence of an agreement to shorten the political transition period from three to two years, as proposed by Cedeao, through its current President, Umaro Sisoco Embaló.
Condé, head of territorial administration and decentralization, stated that “during the community visit to Guinea, the two parties discussed the content of the transition and not its duration,” contradicting the bloc’s reports.
The President of Guinea-Bissau and current President of the sub-regional group cited the achievement of a 24-month transitional agreement instead of the 36 proposed by the government of Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, who has been the country’s authority since 2021.
“I was in Conakry (…) to make the military junta understand the decision of the summit of heads of state (of Cedeao) that the transition must not exceed 24 months,” Sisoco Embaló said of his management and its progress now in doubt.
In press statements, the leader of the community – accompanied by French President Emmanuel Macron on a trip to Africa – stated at the end of July that “the board proposed 36 months and we managed to convince him”. interpreted as granting less time in power to those who toppled President Alpha Condé.
Mory Condé’s refusal went even further: “The government of Guinea is completely distanced from this question of duration”, thereby defeating the criterion of shortening the period for the return of power to the civilian population.
Last September, a group of the army’s special forces staged a coup d’état; The country is now ruled by the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development (CNRD), the military junta, which is backed by the National Transitional Council (CNT) – the provisional parliament – which passed a 36-month transition in May.
Although the debate surrounding the issue of military permanence focuses on declarations and responses between Conakry and Cedeao, this counterpoint has implications for Guinean society and its national institutionalization project.
A new timeline could benefit political actors working to restore civility, whose demands are part of the arsenal of recent street demonstrations, which have claimed lives, according to the press.
The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) organized a day of protests during which one person died and others were injured in clashes with riot police.
This group rebuked the board for its refusal to deal with the transition process, questioned the repression of the July 27-30 mobilizations and called for new protests for August 17.
The Guinean government’s response was to disband the FNDC – a coalition of opposition parties and movements – accused of not having proper official registration and of being responsible for invoking violent demonstrations, according to the Guinee360.com portal.
The front was established in 2019 and the military believes it “endangers national unity and public peace,” coinciding with a surge in mobilizations since late July.
Mouctar Bah, spokesman for this group, called for a “credible dialogue” with the CNRD and civil society and for a “reasonable and agreed” deadline to be set for the duration of the transition.
What is happening in Guinea is not just a sign of rejection by the junta, but part of a process in which the viability of national construction is at stake and will ultimately establish a new relationship between rulers and ruled.
It’s not just about how long the military will be in power, but also how it uses it, whether or not the model that followed the ousted Alpha Condé is inclusive, and whether Colonel Doumbouya’s proposal sets the conditions to create a rule of law.
For the coup leaders, the situation is complex in this very poor country with significant mining, hydraulic and agricultural potential, whose bauxite reserves – the basis for aluminum production – are among the largest in the world.
The September 5 coup raised expectations that have now turned into uncertainty awaiting decisions that the CNRD will have to make to demonstrate its reliability at the national level and in the West African subregion.