Until recently, it was almost widely accepted that the Continent of Africa was staying clean from military coups and the manipulation of power which had plunged its peoples into the valley of brutal intractable upheavals, underdevelopment and misery. Unfortunately, in the last few years, it seems the specter of that dark era appears hovering over the horizon again as one country after another is witnessing the return of soldiers into the political ring, petrifying democrats and the unarmed populations. Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, set a rare record some years past, not only for being the first democratically elected president of Africa, but also for being one amongst many others to peacefully transfer political power after years of civil crises. She has been regarded widely as a paragon of good governance and democracy and held in high honor on international issues bordering post-conflict dilemmas. She is not pleased that neighboring Republic of Guinea has once again badly strayed away from the democratic trajectory and she has some words of condemnation and caution. The Analyst reports.
In the wake of the Sunday, September 3, 2021 coup d’état in neighboring Guinea that has been condemned by the international community, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose own country experienced similar military takeover that broke down governance gains and infrastructural development, has come out strongly to condemn the Guinea situation, further calling on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure that Guinea reverts to constitutional rule so that its people can have access to the benefits of good governance.
Making her position clear over the weekend in a chat with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Focus on Africa’s Veronique Edwards, Madam Sirleaf condemned the coup d’état in Guinea and the manner in which President Conde was shamed in public.
“But I am assured that ECOWAS that has responded adequately and successfully to similar conflicts will do so in keeping with the constitution and the rule of law of Guinea. I am sure that they’ve already had a summit and have taken certain decisions, and that is something that is consistent with ECOWAS policy on their established response to the overthrow of democratically elected government,” she stated.
When quizzed about the specificity of her concerns regarding her displeasure over deposed President Alpha Conde’s maltreatment by the military, Madam Sirleaf said it was unsightly for the Guinea President who had led his country over a protracted period time to be paraded in public glare in such disgraceful manner.
“But I am assured that ECOWAS that has responded adequately and successfully to similar crisis will do so in keeping with the constitution and the rule of law of Guinea,” she intimated.
With regards to any hope of Guinea reverting soonest to constitutional governance, former president Sirleaf said she wishes that ECOWAS will start the process of getting the leaders of Guinea together to see what kind of interim arrangement and transitional bodies can be constituted, and ensure that the country continues to function; that service to the people continues; and that there is a plan for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law to Guinea.
Speaking further on the developing military takeover trend ala Mali and Chad, and what needs to be done to circumvent such occurrences, Madam Sirleaf acknowledged that the trend is indeed worrisome for many.
“It’s a changing world; changing global attitude about democracy, about open society and all of those issues. These are worrying signs for many. It’s shocking that many nations that subscribe to democracy, accountability, transparency, freedom of people, will have to look at these changing winds and show that their institutions are firmly embedded in the principles that they believe in, and that they have adhered to consistent with their national agenda,” she noted.
Madam Sirleaf furthered that when it comes to the situation of heads of state changing the constitution of their countries to go for third terms, or change the constitutions to do things which they had promised they were not going to do in the first place, especially as it relates to the Guinea coup which could lead to Guineans running into Liberia for safe haven if the situation deteriorates, she affirmed her confidence in the ability of the leaders of ECOWAS to handle the crisis.
“We all have strong faith and confidence in their ability to address the crisis in Guinea and to restore Guinea to its rightful place.
“I have confidence that we will not get to the place where we will be going back to the days where people have to run away from their country and seek refuge in other places. Nobody in our sub-region that has faced the death and destruction of our conflicts will ever want to see this happen again. So I leave it to ECOWAS to solve the problem.”