West Africa: Protests Against Military Govt Bring Guinea’s Capital to Standstill

Harare — Demonstrations against the ruling military junta of Guinea's handling of plans for a return to civilian rule brought the capital to a standstill, reports Aljazeera.

At least one person was killed and several injured in clashes involving police during protests in opposition to the military government's decision to settle on a 2025 date to return to democracy.

The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) – a coalition of non-governmental groups and opposition parties – said the victim died after being hit by a live bullet in the Conakry suburb of Hamdallaye, said the report.

Authorities had officially banned the protests, which led to a push back from young demonstrators in several areas seen as opposition strongholds in the capital.

Earlier, the FNDC called for the demonstrations to condemn what they have called the "systematic refusal to establish a credible dialogue to define the terms of the transition" by the military junta, which came in to power after Guinea endured its third successful military coup since independence. Army officers, led by head of the special forces Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, stormed the presidential palace in Conakry and, following a shootout, detained President Alpha Condé.

Promising to change the political landscape of Guinea, Doumbouya announced on state television that the government was dissolved and the Constitution annulled.

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The coup came after Conde, who led the country for nearly 11 years, drew fierce opposition after pushing through a new Constitution in 2020 that allowed him to run for a third presidential term.

In May, 2022, Guinea's Attorney General Alphonse Charles Wright ordered legal proceedings against the former president and 26 of his former officials for alleged crimes, including acts of violence while in office. The charges against 84-year-old Conde and his allies range from complicity in murder and assault to destruction of property. Other alleged crimes include detention, torture, kidnapping, disappearances, rape and other sexual abuse and looting.

Since the coup, there has been pressure from West African countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return the country to civilian rule. The military then declared a ban on public demonstrations before any return to civilian rule – which it says will happen in three years' time.

In June 2022, they rejected a call from the United Nations to lift a ban on political demonstrations, insisting protests should only be allowed during the 2025 election period

Soon after the coup, the regional bloc froze bank accounts and introduced travel bans for the junta members and their families, and called on coup leaders to hold elections within six months and release President Alpha Conde from detention. The African Union also followed in the footsteps of ECOWAS and suspended Guinea, as punishment for a military coup in the nation.

It's not clear if Doumbouya, the head of Guinea's military junta, will have his way on a 39-month transitional period before a return to civilian rule – a move the Guinean opposition already rejected.

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