In October 2020, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, the regional bloc, sent an election observer mission to Guinea when then-President Alpha Condé was running for a controversial third term.
Two days after Election, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo declared himself the winner even before the official results were announced. He was condemned by the government, the electoral commission, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the election observation groups of the African Union (AU).
The observers had declared the elections to be fair and transparent and Mr Diallo’s unilateral statement . That may have allowed President Condé a smooth path back to the presidency, but in hindsight it sown the seeds for the current military coup.
President Condé served two terms after spending nearly two decades in the opposition trenches had spent. His attack on a third term has been ignored by the AU, which ironically has a longstanding policy of “unconstitutional changes of government”.
Recently, the AU Peace and Security Council rejected the coup, saying it was deeply concerned on the situation in Guinea.
“The Council condemns and rejects the coup”, read a dispatch. “Calls on the military to immediately release President Condé and everyone arrested with him; urges the military to return to the barracks and restore constitutional order. ”
This was the fifth time the Council has condemned a coup in West Africa alone in the last 10 years. The continent has seen nine coups in the past decade, although there may have been up to 18 attempts.
At a meeting of Ecowas leaders last week on Wednesday to discuss Guinea, Liberian President George Weah has argued that the frequency of coups is in some ways related to disregard for constitutional term limits.
“Could there be a connection between these events and the political situations in which constitutions were changed by incumbents be to abolish the term of office? Limits through referendums? Or could it just be a coincidence? “He introduced his colleagues.
” If the removal of the term restrictions serves as a trigger for the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments, then perhaps we at Ecowas should do our best to ensure that the term limits in the constitutions of all member states should be respected “
President Weah may have accused Ecowas, but the problem lies with the AU.
Since 2007 the AU has generally been leaving on its policy against unconstitutional changes in government, including coups d’état or attempted coups.
Bankole Adeoye, the AU’s commissioner for political affairs, peace and security (PAPS), said Wednesday last week that it would be “zero Tolerance “towards coups d’état. “The military coup is completely unacceptable. The African Union cannot tolerate power from the barrel of a gun. ”
However, there were exceptions when the continental body looked the other way after the overthrow of a leader when the junta was making a certain transition to civil rule.
< In July 2013, Mohammed Morsy, an Egyptian president affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was overthrown after days of street protests against his rule. The AU responded by banning the country from doing business on the bloc. She later appointed a high-level body composed of former Malian President Alpha Oumar Konaré, Festus Mogae from Botswana and Djibouti's former Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita to consider how such events can be prevented in the future. Meanwhile, Egypt established a transitional government that expelled Mursy's allies.
A year later, in 2014, the AU leaders who gathered in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, created a window for “good” coups. They supported Konare’s recommendations to subtly support government changes when it was so authoritarian that its legitimacy was lost, there are no clear constitutional procedures to change the government, and massive peaceful protests about it Disposal of unpopularity or low participation in arms.
Sometimes these policies have been successful, as in Egypt, when the continent tacitly helped remove sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The AU also tacitly advocated the removal by Robert Mugabe in 2017 from the military. In Sudan, the AU did not threaten sanctions when the military switched sides to support a civil protest movement and took power from former President Omar al-Bashir for 10 years and Guinea-Bissau. The continental body is currently monitoring the events in Mali and Chad, which are currently under temporary military administration.
Last week on Wednesday, Ecowas suspended Guinea from its meetings. However, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo argued that there must be more to stop coups. “What happened in Guinea is a brazen disregard for the provisions of the Ecowas Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which clearly states that any accession to power must be through free, fair and transparent elections,” he said after the extraordinary Ecowas Summit on Guinea.
“We’re sliding back to the infamous 1960s. Our zero tolerance for coups is important, but clearly inadequate. Can we take further steps to prevent coups? ”He said referring to the sordid decade in West Africa when almost all Ecowas members except Senegal witnessed coup or attempted coups.
Ecowas had four last year Coups in French-speaking countries.
Yusuf Lecky, a Nigerian political science professor, told The EastAfrican that the coups in French-speaking West Africa were an indication that France was losing its hold on its former colonies, which eventually could be good for the continent.
“Africa shouldn’t lose sleep on the subject because the French countries are finding their level, because their independence is just being manifested,” he said, adding: “Your African Culture is replacing the colonial one and France knows that this will be the case. ”Sooner or later they leave these states to govern themselves n. ”
In Mali and Guinea, where recent coups have been witnessed, the masterminds in France were trained commanders, suggesting that the influence for coups may be different.
Simon Alade, a lecturer at Ilorin University, Nigeria, said Francophone countries crave modernity and democracy. oriented constitutions. Where is it done to keep a leader in power permanently and keep moving the goalposts because he has the support of France? ”Said Prof. Alade.
sufficient support for those in transition, including Guinea, to ensure that they return to order.
“Ecowas must use its regional mechanisms efficiently to fight the military junta and to support them if necessary to bring the country back to normal and democratic rule,” added Prof. Alade added.