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Guinea - President Addresses United Nations General Debate, 78th Session

Mamadi Doumbouya, President of the National Committee for the Reconciliation and Development, President of the Republic of Guinea, Head of State, addresses the general debate of the 78th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 19 - 26 September 2023).

The African Coup Dilemma: A Quest to Rectify Broken Promises

In a recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, the head of Guinea's junta, defended the recent spate of coups in Africa as attempts by military leaders to rescue their nations from the clutches of presidents who have made "broken promises." While the international community continues to condemn these military takeovers, Doumbouya's call for a deeper examination of the underlying causes raises critical questions about Africa's political landscape and its aspirations for self-determination.

Guinea, a West African nation, experienced a coup in September 2021 that led to Doumbouya's rise as the interim president. He argued that his actions were necessary to prevent the country from descending into chaos. Guinea is not an isolated case; in fact, it is part of a broader trend of coups in West and Central Africa, with eight occurring since 2020. These military takeovers have evoked mixed reactions, celebrated by some citizens in these countries while drawing international condemnation.

Doumbouya's bold assertion at the U.N. General Assembly highlighted the idea that coups are not merely about the individuals who seize power by force. Instead, he argued that the true "putschists" are those who manipulate their countries' constitutions to cling to power indefinitely. This practice of altering constitutions has become alarmingly common across the African continent, often to the detriment of the people's well-being.

One of the driving forces behind these coups, as Doumbouya pointed out, is the frustration stemming from broken promises made by political leaders. These leaders, often in pursuit of their self-interest, have left their nations grappling with issues such as corruption, economic stagnation, and social unrest. The consequence is a disillusioned populace, yearning for change and improvement in their quality of life.

However, while Doumbouya defended the coups as necessary interventions, there are valid concerns about their effectiveness in addressing the issues they seek to rectify. For example, in Mali, where the military has held power since 2020, the Islamic State group expanded its territory significantly in less than a year. Additionally, Burkina Faso, which saw two coups in 2020, experienced a sharp drop in economic growth in 2022 after a robust year in 2021.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who leads West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS, emphasized that military coups are not the solution. He acknowledged that civilian political arrangements that perpetuate injustice are equally problematic. Tinubu is leading efforts among neighboring countries to reverse the coups in the region, emphasizing the need for alternative solutions.

The coup dilemma in Africa reflects a complex struggle for governance that goes beyond military takeovers. It is a manifestation of deep-seated issues related to political stability, corruption, and leadership accountability. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive, long-term solutions that prioritize the well-being of the African people.

While Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya's remarks have sparked debate, one thing is clear: Africa's future hinges on its ability to forge a path toward genuine and lasting change. The international community must play a role in supporting African nations as they navigate these challenges, always keeping in mind the aspirations of the African people for a better future. Coups may offer temporary respite, but they cannot be the ultimate solution to the continent's deep-rooted problems.

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