Guinea junta unveils ‘charter’ for civilian transition

The junta which seized power in the West African state of Guinea has unveiled a “transitional charter” that it says will steer the country back to civilian rule.

The document, read out on national television late Monday, sets down a series of tasks, including the drafting of a new constitution and holding “free, democratic and transparent” elections, although it does not spell out how long the transition will last.

Troops led by a special forces colonel, Mamady Doumbouya, on September 5 arrested 83-year-old President Alpha Conde, who had been battling a wave of unpopularity.

Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015. 

But last year he pushed through a controversial new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won re-election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham. 

The new charter identifies four institutions or figures that will be in charge of the transition.

They are the National Rallying Committee for Development (CNRD) set up by the junta and headed by Doumbaya; the president of the transition, who will also serve as the head of the CNRD, head of state and armed forces chief; a government headed by a civilian prime minister; and a legislative body called the National Transition Council or CNT.

No member of these institutions will be allowed to take part “in either national or local elections, which will be organised at the end of the transition period.”

The duration of the transition “will be set down by joint agreement among the living forces of the nation” and the CNRD, according to the charter.

Guinea’s neighbours in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are deeply worried by the turbulence in Guinea, one of the poorest and most volatile countries in Africa.

The putsch is the second to take place in their region, after Mali, in less than 13 months.

The bloc is demanding that elections be held within six months.

The CNT, comprising 81 members drawn from political parties, civil society, trade unions, employers, the security forces and other bodies, will be tasked with drawing up the new constitution.

No members of Conde’s government or the institutions of the former regime can be named to it.