Guinea’s transition to civilian rule to take 3 years: Coup leader

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya says on state television after political consultations he is considering a transition of 39 months.

Ruling generals in Guinea say a transition back to civilian rule will probably take more than three years, a proposal certain to upset West Africa’s political bloc that has called for a swift return to constitutional order after last year’s coup.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, head of the military government that took power in September, told state television late on Saturday that after political consultations he was considering a transition of 39 months, the first time he has proposed a timeline.

In September 2021, army officers led by Doumbouya removed elected President Alpha Conde in the impoverished former French colony.

Conde, 84, had drawn fierce opposition after he pushed through a new constitution in 2020 that allowed him to run for a third presidential term.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya(4R) and his Special Forces leave the Peoples Palace after the first session of talks between the Colonel and current Guinean political parties in Conakry
Army officers led by Doumbouya overthrew President Alpha Conde in September [File: John Wessels/AFP]

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had set last Monday as a deadline for putting forward an “acceptable” transition timetable or risk economic and financial sanctions.

Guinea’s ruling military let the deadline pass, however, asking ECOWAS for more time for consultations to continue.

ECOWAS has called for an “acceptable” timeline for a return to civilian rule, failing which it has threatened to extend sanctions applied to Guinea following the coup.

Coups in West Africa

Military leaders have also snatched power in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea over the last two years, raising concerns of a backslide in democracy in West Africa, which over the past decade had begun to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”.

The coups have put the countries at odds with ECOWAS, which is trying to put power back in civilian hands.

ECOWAS has already imposed broad sanctions on Mali after military leaders proposed holding onto power until 2025, hammering its fragile economy by shutting it off from regional trade and financial markets. ECOWAS has given Mali 12-16 months to organise democratic elections.

When Burkina Faso’s leaders proposed a three-year transition to civilian rule, ECOWAS called for “a more acceptable timeline”, but stopped short of imposing sanctions on the impoverished state.

ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on Guinea’s military leaders but not on the wider economy. A spokesperson was not available for comment on Guinea’s new timeline.

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