Guinea: Doumbouya and political parties harden their tone

By Diawo Barry
Posted on Tuesday, 17 May 2022 11:04

Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, president of the CNRD, has been president of the transitional government since 5 September 2021. © Sunday Alamba/AP/SIPA

The ban on demonstrations announced on 13 May by the "Comité National de Rassemblement pour le Développement" (CNRD) has caused an outcry in Conakry. The parties plan to coordinate their response at a series of meetings taking place in the near future.

Does Guinea’s military have a short memory? When Mamadi Doumbouya overthrew Alpha Condé on 5 September, he pointed out that the former president seemed to govern badly and not respect public freedoms.

20 days later, he had a Transitional Charter promulgated, which pledged – in Article 2 – to ensure “the promotion and protection of human rights and public freedoms.”

“The fundamental rights and freedoms are recognised and their exercise is guaranteed to citizens under the conditions and in the forms provided for by the law,” read Article 8. “No exceptional or emergency situation shall justify violations of human rights.”

On the evening of 13 May, the junta’s spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Aminata Diallo, announced a ban on all public demonstrations.

Is the Comité National de Rassemblement pour le Développement (CNRD) trying to silence the discontent? The Guinean political class objected when the Conseil National de Transition announced that power would not be handed over to civilians for three years, a longer period of time than requested by ECOWAS, which had demanded that constitutional order be restored within six months.

“A worrying measure”

The ban on demonstrations has not gone down well in Conakry. “It is a disturbing measure, which seems like a desire to confiscate fundamental freedoms while the CNRD had promised that justice would be the compass in the conduct of the transition,” says Alseny Sall, head of communications at the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights (OGDH). “The government would do better to establish a framework for consensual dialogue with the various political and social actors representing the nation. This would enable it to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

Cellou Dalein Diallo’s Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) denounced “a violation of the transitional government’s charter.”

The Alliance Nationale pour l’Alternance et la Démocratie (Anad), a coalition of parties that formed around Condé’s former opponent, convened a meeting on the afternoon of 16 May to “analyse this ban and make the necessary decision.”

On 18 May, another meeting will be organised within the framework of the Groupe des 58 Partis Politiques (G58) including, in addition to the UFDG, Sidya Touré’s Union des Forces Républicaines (UFR) and Mamadou Sylla’s Union Démocratique de Guinée (UDG).

What about the former ruling party, the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG Arc-en-Ciel)? To everyone’s surprise, it responded on 11 May and attended the G58’s meeting, which was held at the UFDG’s headquarters.

“It is entirely possible that the RPG and its allies will attend the 18 May meeting,” said Joachim Baba Millimouno, who is in charge of the UFDG’s communication. “We have launched an appeal to all political forces.”

A final meeting may be organised afterwards, which would bring together, in addition to the G58, RPG and its allies, civil society organisations. “The transition’s duration concerns everyone,” says Millimouno.

The only demonstration that has taken place since the CNRD came to power, which was held to protest against Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sydia Touré’s expulsion last February, was not repressed. Although Guinea gained 25 points in the latest RSF press freedom index, Guineans in Conakry fear that their fundamental rights and freedoms will become more and more restricted.

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