October 1, 2022

By Allieu S. Tunkara

Guinea has been successfully ushered into a third-term democracy with Professor Alpha Conde at the helm.

Borders between Guinea and other countries remain sealed off by President Conde.  The President’s move is an apparent tactic to securitise and stabilise power with the aim of advancing his political objectives.

The closure of borders, no doubt, has disrupted trade and commerce between Guinea and neighbouring countries. The political situation has generated questions about what should be the role of the international community especially; France Guinea’s former master in ensuring that real democracy prevails.

However, the international community is yet to take a position on the Guinea’s political situation. Even if it does, it is yet unclear what form would the intervention take considering that Guinea is sovereign state in the community of nations.

Sovereignty of nations is a cardinal principle in international relations which every country is bound to respect. Democracy is unknown to Guinea for several years after she gained independence from France in 1958.

The country’s body politics has been dominated for years by military generals, but the death of General Lansana Conteh brought a semblance of democracy in the former French West African.

The appearance of President Conde on Guinea’s political stage raised hopes of a lasting democratic order in the francophone country. It is the hope of Guineans that Professor Conde would consolidate a sound democratic culture owing to his lengthy sojourn in France, and an acquisition of education under a western orientation.

But, the hope is a frail as Conde has failed to showcase democratic ideals accepted in contemporary and civilised societies.  In most sovereign states in the community of free nations, the maximum term for presidents or prime ministers is two-term.

Reports say the Guinean constitution is also tailored to meet the democratic ideal as it provides for a two-term mandate for any government at any particular time.

The constitution however was tampered with to meet the comfort of President Conde who successfully ran for a third term. He still presides over the governance system in Guinea, but without an active participation of a significant number of people.

A number of international media reports have portrayed Guineans as those who have been protesting against a Conde third-term presidency. In the process, a number of demonstrators were allegedly gunned down by security operatives thereby paving the way for Conde to continue his presidency.

He succeeded as he remained in the helm, but security problems hunt Guinea. In all the hulabaloo that pervades in the West African country, the country’s former colonial master has not responded. A similar situation unfolds In Cote D’Voire where President Alhassane Ouatttara is pressing for a third term after two terms in power.

The opposition does not take active part in the Ivorian politics in which the incumbent President has completely overshadowed. Reports have also indicated that the incumbent President has gone owing to political apathy by the opposition.

Mr Ouattara seems determined to form the next government in Ivory Coast, but the creation of a parallel one, reports say, is a move to be embarked upon by the opposition. If it goes as planned, it will be the first in Ivory Coast for two governments to operate in the West African nation.

France who once intervened in the Ivorian political crisis is yet to comment on the stand-off, but is hoped that she would.

However, another overriding argument goes that even if France intervened, less difference would be created as the two leaders have achieved their political goals.

They are now firmly seated in their presidential seats while opposition parties cry foul. Signs of the army stepping in the two political situations are faint, extremely difficult and almost impossible. The two leaders have turned constitutional provisions in their favour to legalise their stay in power.

However, African history has shown that a penchant in African leaders to overstay in politics is one of the principal causes of Africa’s bloody civil wars and revolutions. As the two countries still engulfed in the impasse, no one can tell what may happen tomorrow.

The seeds of conflict sown today may not germinate now, but it may in future dates, and is devastating for the young democratic states. Political power in Africa is synonymous with ownership and control of national resources especially mineral wealth.

In most African states, any person or group of persons who own power, own resources, a situation that makes it uneasy for political opponents to put up with leaders who want to permanently remain in power. It is most times frustrating as the winner-takes-all philosophy surrounded by cronies is prevalent. The situation usually ends in bloodbath in Africa.

Liberia, Sierra Leone, Libya, among others, are nations where wars erupted because political leaders refused to leave the stage when time was up. The war that broke out in Liberia in 1989 was believed to have been caused by power struggle among Liberian politicians.

The Liberians, at that time, wanted to see the back of President Samuel K. Doe who still needed the aura and largesse of power.  President Doe, although it was illegal, was brutally fatally toppled. President Doe’s death set in motion a trail of atrocities in Liberia that spilled over to Sierra Leone on 23rd March, 1991 when the first shot was fired in Bomaru village in the eastern district of Kailahun.

The shot triggered a brutal campaign of terror that was not too different from that of Liberia. The shot had an aim and that aim was to see the All People’s Congress out of power after decades of state governance.

It came to pass, but the aftermath was horrific as the war scars remain to date. War factions emerged apart from the main rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front who turned their barrel against defenceless civilians including vulnerable groups, women and children.

War annals show that all parties to the conflict committed the most heinous crimes ever recorded in human history. Owing to bizzare tactics employed, the war in Sierra Leone came to be referred to as the bloodiest guerrilla warfares in the world. Libya, in spite of its enormous oil deposit, is now on the brink of a failed state owing to outbreak of a war for power.

The North African nation has an abundance of oil that has made the country great with the potential to become the greatest in Africa. But, the seeming unreadiness of the Libyan government to transfer power to the people led to the fall, in 2013, Africa’s most widely known dictator, Muammar Gadafi.

The revolution which brought down Gadafi popularly known as the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, surfaced in Egypt and later Libya. It was a revolution for regaining power from overstayed leaders as presidents Ben Ali of Tunisia, Husni Mubarak of Egypt fled from their seats for their lives.

But, Gadafi became the only fatality of the revolution. It is needless to say brutal events in Africa which considerable reversed democratic gains, most times, are caused and fuelled by power struggles among rival groups.

As Conde and Ouattara entrench themselves in power owing at the annoyance of the masses, where is France? where is the UN? Where is the AU? Where is the ECOWAS? Where is the MRU?

Africans expected, at the outset, either France or the aforementioned inter-governmental organisations to forestall the political manipulations that ensconce the two African giants in power. If France stopped former President Laurent Gbagbo from going into a third term presidency, why allowing President Alhassane Ouattara?

The failure of France and the international community, Africa says, to stop Conde and Ouattara in the two MRU countries is the beginning of a high degree of hypocrisy.

Africans wait and watch the political drama that unfolds in the two countries.