By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Speaking on the program The Inside over Equinox Television, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh reiterated that a clear-cut timeline for the smooth handing over of power back to civilian rule is imperative, and that is what civilians are clamouring for.
The wide-ranging discussion this April 3, 2022, was centred on the NDI’s mission to Guinea-Conakry and the coups and crisis in Mali, Chad, Sudan and Burkina Faso. “The situation (in Guinea-Conakry) is tense as the miliary leader Doumbia has a sense of what he wants to achieve. Across the board, people have different views on the pace of the transition,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh said.
Branded by ECOWAS as “contagious”, the coups in Mali have shown other militaries in the region they could capture the power and hold on to it. For the past 18months, West Africa has seen four successful military coups – two in Mali and one each in Guinea and Burkina Faso as widespread mistrust and anger over corruption and the inability of the leaders to address basic fundamental issues in the country.
The Military headed by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized power in Guinea back in September 2021 saying “The duty of a soldier is to save the country.” Then-President Alfa Conde had been in power for more than a decade with his popularity plummeting after he had sought a third term in office, noting that the “term limits did not apply to him.”
“People want to get a sense of the duration of this transition because nobody wants the military to be in power forever and nobody wants to live under a role of an emergency for an extended period. Secondly, people want to get a sense of the roadmap, and the specific things that the military wants to do during this transition period. It is very vague to say that you want to reform the entire country, and we all know that you can reform a country that has had independence for over sixty-two years overnight or do that in just a year or two,” Fomunyoh said, responding to the question on the conversation he had with stakeholders.
“The Military needs to be specific in terms of the concrete measures that they want to work on and the concrete things that will allow the country to get back to a legitimate democratically elected government that will have the legitimacy to bargain and engage the people of Guinea.”
Asked how long the transition period should be in Guinea-Conakry, Dr Fomunyoh said it is extremely unsettling to live under a military regime. He said: “Everyone wants the transition period to be as short as possible so that citizens can regain their liberties and freedoms. Ultimately, it is going to be the people of Guinea to determine for how long the transition should be.”
“But, given a well-defined term of reference with consensus around the three or four big issues that need to be tackled, there is no reason why the transition should go beyond 18 months. It doesn’t take that long to write a new constitution, popularize it and get it approved through a referendum and then prepares the country to go through local, legislative elections – many of which could be organized simultaneously.
Mali, most complex coups – Fomunyoh
Mali’s military headed by Colonel Goita seized power for the second time after saying then-president Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country’s transition. Colonel Goita back in May said the election will go as planned in 2022.
The military junta had also announced that he plans to stay in power for up to five years, prompting ECOWAS to impose a trade embargo, and freeze the country’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States. The World Bank which was financing around 1.5 billion dollars worth of projects in Mali, halted the funding.
“The situation in Mali is probably the most complex of the five cases of countries where military takeovers have occurred in recent times. The reason why this is complicated is that Mali for the past eight years has faced security issues caused by violent extremists that have come from outside the country’s borders,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh said.
“This has also exacerbated internal violence in the country. The current military Mali government is also making some decisions with regards to partnership and relationship with its outreach to Russia with Wagner group supporting the military to fight the extremists… All the pieces to work harmoniously has been quite a challenge.”
Dr Fomunyoh added: “After the coup, ECOWAS and most Malians were very open to having the military-run a transition period that will return the country to a democratic dispensation. When the military junta first announced that they could be in power for four to five years, that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and it has contributed to the tensions that exist between Mali and the sub-regional organization, ECOWA and the tensions in international relations between Mali and France.”
“The people of Mali would rather not live through military rule and that given the right circumstances, they will be able to participate in meaningful political processes that will allow a legitimate government to emerge – one that could be able to speak credibly on behalf of the people of Mali.”