Guinea’s military government this week announced plans to prosecute ousted President Alpha Condé and 26 of his former officials for murder, rape, kidnapping and other crimes. Guinea’s coup leader also proposed a three-year transition to civilian rule.
In 2010, Condé became Guinea’s first democratically elected president, but allegations of corruption and authoritarian behavior persisted throughout his term. Last September, Condé was overthrown in a military coup after winning what critics said was an illegal third term.
Conde changed the constitution to allow himself to run for a third term, sparking violent protests and a deadly crackdown by police.
The charges against Conde and his government were issued in response to a complaint filed by the National Front to Protect the Constitution (FNDC) – the group that led the protests.
Gilles Yabi, director of the West Africa Citizens think tank in Dakar, said it was important that the proceedings shed light on Conde’s regime, adding that he risks being perceived as a political tool.
“When it comes to the fight against impunity, it should not raise suspicion of political manipulation to make it credible,” he said. “Given the current context in Guinea, this may be difficult.”
Other officials facing charges include former security officials, the speaker of parliament and a prime minister.
“This is a bold move by the junta,” said Barka Ba, a political science researcher from West Africa. “Do they have enough time and political legitimacy to conduct these proceedings? Because those who are being accused are highly respected and considered innocent. They will have a right to defence.”
The leaders of the West Africa bloc ECOWAS called on Guinea’s military government to announce an “acceptable” plan to transition to civilian rule or face immediate sanctions by 25 April.
Guinea’s interim president, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, a former special forces commander, missed the deadline. On Saturday, he said he was considering a transition period of more than three years.
ECOWAS defense leaders are meeting on May 6, 2022 to discuss security in the Sahel and announce sanctions against Guinea’s military government.