Guinea military revolt

Guinea's long standing military dictator Lamsana Conte died on the 23rd of December . Lansana Conte was in power for 24 years.  On the same day junior officers in the army led by Capt Moussa Camara staged a military revolt and took power. One of the officers involved in the revolt is 2nd Lt Claude Pivi who was involved in a previous mutiny at the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp.

Lansana Conte came to power after a military coup in 1984. Guinea's independence leader Sekou Toure died in the same year.Lansana Conte was the chief of the army and overthrow the interim government. Sekou Toure was a progressive leader and supported anti colonial liberation movements in Africa. During his rule Guinea served as rear base to PAIGC led by Amilcar Cabral who fought against portugeese colonial rule in neighboring Guinea Bissau. Sekou Toure also distanced Guinea from it's colonial master France. Guinea is the world's largest exporter of bauxite which is the raw material for Aluminium. In addition Guinea has very large gold and diamond deposits.Lansana Conte was trained in France and as such backed by France when he came to power. 

For the last 24 years a small clique around Conte plundered Guinea's wealth. Guinea is considered most corrupt government in Africa. Inspite of the fact that the country had so much mineral wealth people remained very poor. Soldiers went without pay for months where as Generals looted the state coffers. Some of the multi national companies were given dubious contracts to exploit country's mineral wealth. All the attempts by unions and opposition to carry out democratic change were suppressed brutally. Conte had regular bogus elections to placate his international masters.In addition he also ensured that he had no credible successor.

At the international level Guinea was the bulwark for all the western backed military interventions in West Africa. Guinean troops were involved in interventions Sierra Leone and Liberia. Guinea was part of Ecowas and next to Nigeria contributed largest number of troops.

In these conditions it was not surprising that military will intervene after Conte's death. However what was unexpected from French and western point of view was that the Junior officers will carry out the coup. As Conte's regime was so unpopular people poured on to the streets to support the junior officers. There was uncertainty for few days as it was not clear whether the junior officers had the support of whole military. But it is now clear that the majority of the military and population is behind the military junta. 

Military junta has said that it will review all the mineral contracts. In addition they have demoted all the high ranking officers.It is possible that a French backed counter coup will be attempted.In addition it is highly likely that the new government and some of the western interests are in collision course.

What differentiates the military revolt from other recent military coups in Africa is the nature of it's support base. It's support come from low ranking officers and general population. In addition if they carry out their stated intentions such as rooting out corruption Guinea will under go major transformation. It will be also interesting to note that Guinea being a Muslim country embark on a secular progressive path rather reactionary Islamic fundamentalist path.This will be a major example for other Muslim nations in Africa and middle east.

Winds of change in Latin America have started to blow in Africa. Leaders like Chavez who came from military background have established progressive governments. Africa like Latin America have gone through the cycle of military governments and then pro western democratic governments which in many cases failed to alleviate poverty and misery.It is possible that Guinea's military revolt may show that Africa will be moving in the same direction as Latin America.


01st January 2009