By Scott Morgan
There was a modicum of surprise on 5 September this year when news broke reporting Gunfire in the Capital of Guinea. When news broke that President Alpha Conte was in fact removed by elements of the Special Forces then the questions began in earnest. If one gauges the reaction on the street by the average citizen then this action was very popular among the average citizen in Guinea.
First, how did Guinea reach this point of transition? The answer to this question is bluntly due to the actions of the ousted President himself. In 2020 Presidential Elections were scheduled to be run in the country. Under the Constitution the President was supposed to be limited to two terms of office. Mr. Conde pushed through a controversial Amendment that allowed him to run for a third term of office. He subsequently won a third term during an election cycle that was marred by violence. He was sworn into office on 15 December 2020.
What happened in the period between Mid-December 2020 and September 2021? It appears that most of the issues that led to the downfall of the Conde Government have to be seen as self-inflicted. In August 2021 there was an attempt to balance the budget. However the methods that were decided on proved to be fatal. It was decided that there would be an increase in taxes, there would be cuts in funding to both the police and the military while the budget for the Office of the President and the National Assembly would be increased.
Some of these economic moves suggest that an Aid Package from either the IMF or World Bank may have been in the works for Guinea. Some of the reforms are usually signals that such a package is in the works. How these financial bodies react to the coup may be telling of how close that a proposed aid package was in being delivered.
Another issue to monitor is the price of Aluminum(1). On the first trading day after the coup the price of Aluminum soared to an 18 month high in trading in China. However the decisions made by the junta have allowed the mines themselves to maintain operations without any interference. Clearly the new authorities do not want any interference in this major revenue stream for the coffers of Guinea.
On 8 September ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) suspended Guinea from the body as a reaction to the coup. This is similar action taken to the events that have played out in Mali over the last couple of years. It appears that the closer we get to the elections in February 2022 the more we are seeing that country gradually being reaccepted into ECOWAS. Could such a scenario play out in Guinea?
Another issue could be how will the rest of the world react to the period of transition that Guinea currently is in? The State Department has not updated its travel advisory to the country since 12 July (2) . However a statement was issued condemning the coup itself.
What the transfer of power will be presented as will probably determine the future reactions of donor nations and its neighbors. Clearly the call is to continue to monitor the situation on the ground.