Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the former Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), has expressed regret over the military coup d’état in Guinea.
He said happenings in Guinea was “truly regrettable” and called for the return of constitutional rule.
Dr Chambas said this in a virtual forum on Guinea, organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) – Ghana, dubbed: “Guinea in Crisis: The Way Forward”.
A section of the Guinean Military on Sunday, September 5, announced they had seized power and that President Alpha Conde was in detention.
The Military attributed the coup d’état to rampant corruption, mismanagement, and poverty in the country.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations condemned the military takeover and called for the restoration of constitutional rule.
The country has been suspended by both ECOWAS and the AU.
“What is happening in Guinea is truly regrettable. It is the case where in spite of the best intentions, we were unable to prevent a very foreseeable event; I mean all the signals were there,” he said.
Dr Chambas said in 2020, international stakeholders such as ECOWAS and the AU tried to prevent the Guinea situation from escalating but was unsuccessful.
“I recall particularly that as many as five or six heads of state were in early 2020 willing to go and sit down with President Alpha Code, and to talk to him about the dangers ahead or the turmoil that was already evident in Guinea,” he said.
“I must say that this is the one case where the COVID-19 pandemic had a deleterious impact on peace and security because that particular mission was cancelled because it coincided with the period of total lockdown globally. And so, the mission of his peers did not happen. Be that as it may, I think that there are some lessons we can learn clearly.”
Dr Chambas asked regional, sub-regional and the international community to be a bit firm in such instances.
Initially, both ECOWAS and the AU noted that conditions were not there to conduct credible elections in Guinea and withdrew the observers they had sent there, unfortunately after what essentially was a “window dressing”, the observers were allowed to go back to monitor the flawed elections, he said.
Dr Chambas expressed the hope that going forward, there would be a little more boldness on the part of ECOWAS and the AU in saying under certain instances, they could not deplore observers to rubber-stamp elections that were flawed.
The former ECOWAS Commission President said elements that were all at play in Guinea, prior to the 2020 election, included weak institutions, monetisation of politics, and misutilisation of the judicial process.
He called for clarity from the new Guinean authorities regarding the transition period so that stakeholders could help return the country to constitutional rule.
The programme, hosted by Mr Daniel K. Osei, President of CFR-Ghana, had panelists including; Dr K. O. Amaning, former UN Resident Coordinator to Guinea, and Mr Anthony Ohemeng-Boamah, UN Resident Coordinator for Mauritania.