ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The recent coups in Africa are attempts by militaries to save their countries from presidents’ “broken promises,” the head of Guinea’s junta said Thursday as he rebuffed the West for boxing in the continent of more than 1 billion people.
Col. Mamadi Doumbouya, who was sworn in as Guinea’s interim president following the coup in 2021, told the U.N. General Assembly that beyond condemning the coups, global leaders must also “look to and address the deep-rooted causes.”
“The putschist is not only the person who takes up arms to overthrow a regime,” he told the gathering of world leaders in New York. “I want us all to be well aware of the fact that the real putschists, the most numerous, are those who avoid any condemnation — they are those … who cheat to manipulate the text of the constitution in order to stay in power eternally.”
Guinea is one of several nations in West and Central Africa that have experienced eight coups since 2020, including two – Niger and Gabon – in recent months. The military takeovers, sometimes celebrated by citizens in those countries and condemned by international organizations and foreign countries, have raised concern about the stability of the continent, whose young population of at least 1.3 billion is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the planet’s people.
Doumbouya accused some leaders in Africa of clinging to power by any means — often including amending the constitution — to the detriment of their people.
In Guinea, he said he led soldiers to depose then-President Alpha Conde in the September 2021 coup to prevent the country from “slipping into complete chaos.” He said the situation was similar in other countries hit by coups and was a result of “broken promises, the lethargy of the people and leaders tampering with constitutions with the sole concern of remaining in power to the detriment of collective well-being.”
Doumbouya also rebuffed attempts by the West and other developed countries to intervene in Africa’s political challenges, saying that Africans are “exhausted by the categorizations with which everyone wants to box us in.”
“We Africans are insulted by the boxes, the categories which sometimes place us under the influence of the Americans, sometimes under that of the British, the French, the Chinese and the Turks,” the Guinean leader said. “Today, the African people are more awake than ever and more than ever determined to take their destiny into their own hands.”
While the Guinean leader defended the coups in his country and elsewhere, concerns remain about the effectiveness of such military takeovers in addressing the challenges they said made them “intervene.”
In Mali, where soldiers have been in power since 2020, the Islamic State group almost doubled the territory it controls in less than a year, according to U.N. experts. And in Burkina Faso, which recorded two coups in 2020, economic growth slowed to 2.5% in 2022 after a robust 6.9% the year before.
“Military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice,” said Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. As the leader of West Africa’s regional bloc of ECOWAS, he is leading efforts of neighbors to reverse the coup in the region.
“The wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favor towards coups,” He said. “It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems.”