Guinea: The details surrounding Alpha Condé’s latest evacuation

By Diawo Barry
Posted on Monday, 23 May 2022 12:44

Alpha Condé, 12 October 2020. © CAROL VALADE/AFP

After returning from Abu Dhabi on 8 April on Mamadi Doumbouya’s orders, Guinea’s former president Alpha Condé again went abroad for treatment, this time to Turkey.

Overthrown on 5 September, Alpha Condé left Guinea again on 21 May. The plane carrying him landed in Istanbul, Turkey, late in the day. A communiqué from the junta in power in Conakry, which was issued the previous evening, had announced that Professor Alpha Condé was going abroad for medical appointments.

According to the text read by Lieutenant-Colonel Aminata Diallo, spokesperson for the Comité National de Rassemblement pour le Développement (CNRD), this decision is motivated not only by “respect for the former president’s dignity and integrity”, but also by “humanitarian reasons”.

The Conakry authorities insisted that it was made in “perfect conformity” with the legal proceedings otherwise instituted against Condé.

Second evacuation

First authorised to go to the UAE to receive treatment in mid-January, the former president was forced to return home on 8 April. This stay, which was initially supposed to last one month, was extended for several weeks until Mamadi Doumbouya, president of the transition government, forced his predecessor to return.

He accused him in particular of not having respected his duty of reserve and of continuing to intervene in the affairs of what had been his party, the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG-Arc-en-ciel).

Condé was not accompanied by either his bodyguard or personal doctor during this second evacuation. The former head of state was initially going to stay in a large hotel in Istanbul. Although he had seemed fit after his return from Abu Dhabi, his health had deteriorated again in recent weeks. He was also showing signs of depression.

It took three weeks of discussions to decide whether he would be allowed to seek treatment in Abu Dhabi, like last time, or in Turkey. According to our information, the situation was unblocked after several mediations.

Both the Chadian presidency, which was approached by people close to Condé via Abakar Manany, minister adviser to Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, who is very well known in the UAE, and Abdelkérim Idriss Déby, cabinet director and the Chadian president’s half-brother, has been working to convince Abu Dhabi to welcome Condé back if necessary.

At the same time, the leaders of the Turkish group Albayrak, which manages part of the port of Conakry, approached Turkey. In the end, these discussions proved successful. Turkey was the first choice of the ex-president, who is reputedly close to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had opened his arms to him the day after the putsch. This offer was reiterated when Conde had to leave Abu Dhabi, but Doumbouya opposed it.

Guarantees of return?

In the next few weeks, the question of Condé’s return to Guinea will be raised. He and about 20 people close to him are facing judicial proceedings for crimes committed during his 11 years in power.

It seems unlikely that Erdogan would force “his friend” to get back on the plane as the Emiratis did. However, it seems equally doubtful that Turkey is willing to sacrifice its interests in Guinea by engaging in a tug-of-war with Conakry.

Unless the CNRD itself “does not want Alpha Condé to return,” says a former close collaborator. “They have no interest in him being tried. They all know that he is not to blame. They have everything to lose in this case.”

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options