As details emerge regarding the 5 September military coup in Guinea, ARTICLE 19 calls on all authorities, including the military, security forces and incoming government, to uphold democracy and observe international standards on human rights.
Guinea’s security forces ousted President Alpha Conde on 5 September and dissolved the government, claiming it did so to tackle ongoing corruption and poverty.
“ARTICLE 19 is closely following the political situation in Guinea, where a coup d’etat was carried out on Sunday, 5 September by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, head of the Special Forces Group (GPS), who announced the arrest of the president of the republic, Alpha Condé, the dissolution of governmental institutions and the suspension of the Constitution,” said Bulakali Alfred Nkuru, the Deputy Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa.
“This is another setback for democracy and a blow to the rule of law, which was already battered by a controversial third term for the president and his regime’s continued repression of protesters, opponents, and all dissenting voices,” he added.
Prior to Sunday’s coup, Guinea’s democracy was already seriously flawed and fragile. The president had recently amended the constitution to ensure he could serve a third term, and the country’s security forces were often accused of carrying out human rights violations and repressing peaceful political demonstrations. Instead of helping to strengthen the rule of law and democratic procedures, the country’s elite security forces took matters into its own hands.
“An environment conducive to free expression must be guaranteed during this crisis,” said Bulakali Alfred Nkuru. “ARTICLE 19 calls for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, for the independence of the media, for the protection of journalists, pro-democracy activists and all civic and political opinions, including dissenting ones. Respect for freedom of expression and democracy must be a priority for all the actors involved. All those previously arrested for their opinions must be immediately released, and, as we have been repeatedly demanding, violations against the right to freedom of expression must come to an end.”
Towards the end of 6 September, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya said a new government would be formed within a matter of weeks, and that there would be no reprisals against former government officials. The president was reportedly still in captivity.
It was unclear whether the coup had been backed by the Guinea military as a whole or whether it was simply the work of one elite unit.