By Paul Ejime
Guinea’s 81-member national transitional council (NTC) headed by Dr Dansa Kourouma is playing a crucial legislative role in the country’s tenuous political transition after the 5 September coup led by Col Mamady Doumbouya, which toppled President Alpha Conde.
As part of TNC’s efforts to canvas international support for the transition programme, Kourouma, 43, a medical doctor with an enterprising civil society and governance track record will be the guest speaker at the Chatham House London, UK’s leading policy Think-thank on Wednesday, 30 August.
He will use the opportunity to shed light on the progress of the political transition and the work of the NTC, which is made up of political parties, civil society, armed forces, employers’ organisations, trade unions and other interest groups, including farmers.
The council is implementing a 10-element programme agreed by the junta and ECOWAS last December, which prescribed a 24-month timetable for the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea by January 2025.
Col. Doumbouya’s military-civilian regime has budgeted Euro 600 million for the transition process, including conducting two types of population census, preparing an electoral register, and a new constitution, setting up an electoral body, and conducting elections (referendum, local, legislative, and presidential), culminating in the handover of power.
The transition charter expressly states that none of the soldiers nor any other member of the Transitional Government must participate in the succeeding administration.
There is, however, the argument that the transition should have focused mainly on activities for a return to constitutional order because adding other elements could prolong the process.
Funding is also likely to pose a challenge.
However, the steering committee, monitoring the implementation of the transition, which is made up of local and international stakeholders, such as ECOWAS and development partners, announced after a recent meeting in Conakry that the transition was on course.
Col Doumbouya has also reiterated his commitment and assurance to respect the transition timetable.
Former Benin Republic President Yayi Boni is the ECOWAS Mediator in Guinea, although some analysts have noted that ECOWAS is only “an observer” on the Steering Committee with no major role. This can be rectified as the process progresses.
Ousted President Conde, 85, is largely to blame for bringing the coup misfortune upon himself by obstinately altering the national constitution in 2020 for his third term plan after serving 10 years in office, apparently following the footsteps of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.
Conde, in his case, was forced through a referendum and national elections during the critical Covid-19 pandemic, which killed several Guinea government officials and the National Electoral Commission Chairman Amadou Salif Kébé in 2020.
The Conde government then responded with a ruthless clampdown on opposition and street protests, resulting in the deaths of some protesters.
Conde is officially in Turkey for medical treatment, but his whereabouts remain largely a mystery.
He is also facing charges by the junta, for corruption and financial mismanagement as well as human rights violations during protests against his third-term plan.
Furthermore, Conde is among 40 individuals and entities listed last December for sanctions by the U.S. over alleged corruption and human rights violations across nine countries.
Otherwise, rich but impoverished by bad governance, Guinea unlike other former French colonies in Africa, had always tried to assert a measure of independence from France, particularly in managing its economy and local currency, the Guinean francs.
Paris did condemn the Doumbouya coup, but like ECOWAS, it has effectively welcomed the tardy progress toward a return to constitutional order in Guinea.
In contrast, America has suspended Guinea from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, apparently because Guinea’s economic mainstay – the export of bauxite now primarily goes to China and the United Arab Emirates.
As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as far as the implementation of the Guinea transition programme is concerned.
Observers are also keeping an eye on the other army-ruled ECOWAS member States – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
The way forward is to strategically manage, guide and whip into line the wayward ECOWAS member States at minimum damage or negative consequences.
Political leaders in the region also owe the estimated 400 million Community citizens the constitutional duty and obligation to provide good governance and avoid those conducts, tendencies and dispositions that encourage military incursions.