Mamady Doumbouya, commander of the Special Forces Group (GPS), overthrew Guinean President Alpha Condé on Sunday. Who is he and what are his goals?
From a cadet at the War School to a corporal in the French Foreign Legion, Mamady Doumbouya has had an original career to say the least. It is on September 28, 2018, during the parade of the armed forces of Guinea, that we see for the first time the commander, just appointed, of the Special Forces Group (GPS). Consequently, the Guinean press will be interested in this man and will try to understand the past of Mamady Doumbouya. Because in Guinea, few understand the place that has been conferred on it in the army.
Three years later, it is this same man who overthrew the Guinean head of state. WhileAlpha Condé was arrested by armed men, Mamady Doumbouya addresses Guineans. He deplores " the socio-political and economic situation of the country, dysfunction republican institutions, the instrumentalisation of justice, the trampling of citizens' rights, the disrespect for democratic principles ”.
The republican army of Guinea becomes "the National Committee of the Rally and Development (CNRD)" and decides to "take its responsibilities vis-à-vis the sovereign people of Guinea". Mamady Doumbouya affirms "to have 'taken' the president" and "decided to dissolve the Constitution in force, the institutions, the government, and the closure of the land and air borders".
"Take" Alpha Condé and rule Guinea?
An assumed speech, therefore. The Guinean putschist's first statement sets the framework for operations. Commander Mamady Doumbouya, whose rise was as rapid as his disgrace, can boast of having carried out a rapid coup: it only took him four hours. It remains to be seen whether "taking" President Alpha Condé is equivalent to holding Guinea?
Nothing is less sure. Because the country, heavily in debt, to the point of applying unlivable measures dictated by the financial authorities, is plunged into a socio-economic crisis as much as a political one. The reign of Alpha Condé exasperated the Guinean populations. And his re-election for a third term has once again stirred up political opposition. The civil opposition, already divided, collapsed under state repression. Dozens of dead and hundreds of prisoners.
The strange journey of Mamady Doumbouya
Originally from Upper Guinea, from the Kankan region, Corporal Mamady Doumbouya followed an officer training at the Ecole de Guerre as part of military cooperation between Guinea and France. After two years of military academy in Saumur, in eastern France, he trained at the International Security Academy (ISA) in Haifa, Israel. Back in France, he began a course in defense and industrial dynamics in Paris, at the University of Assas.
At the end of this officer training, Mamady Doumbouya made a strange choice: to join the French Foreign Legion. A very rare choice for a graduate officer. A simple corporal, he cut his teeth in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Djibouti and the Central African Republic (CAR). During his legionary career, he also followed a training as a commander in Senegal, and a training as a staff officer in Gabon. In February 2018, the Foreign Legion did not renew his contract. French nationality would have been refused to him for his "conduct contrary to the principles and values of the Foreign Legion", reports the Guinean press. He left the Foreign Legion, a simple corporal, but with a pedigree worthy of a colonel.
Recalled to Guinea by the army, he was appointed commando instructor by the general staff. Then, to everyone's surprise, he was appointed commander of the GPS, the flower of the Guinean army, in June 2018. The opposition press accuses Mamady Doumbouya of being involved in the repression of demonstrations in 2020. And rumors circulate on illicit enrichment and a tendency - typical for officers of the Guinean army - to the abuse of power.
What future for Mamady Doumbouya's coup?
In May 2021, a dispute between Mamady Doumbouya and the Ministry of Defense. The commander of the GPS believes that his unit should no longer depend on the ministry. Since then, the general staff and the government have watched Doumbouya with suspicion. Unfounded rumors of his arrest had circulated several months ago. Today Alpha Condé jailer, Mamady Doumbouya has accomplished a quick coup. If his first speech invites the army to join the putschists, the international community has already called for the release of Alpha Condé.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, announced: "I strongly condemn any seizure of power by force and call for the immediate release of President Alpha Condé". The president of the African Union, Félix Tshisekedi, as well as the president of his commission Moussa Faki Mahamat also condemned the coup d'etat of Doumbouya.
- African Union (@_AfricanUnion) September 5, 2021
On the ECOWAS side, the incumbent President, Ghanaian Head of State Nana Akufo-Addo, has launched a consultation with his West African counterparts. According to a press release published on the evening of Sunday, September 5, the heads of state of ECOWAS demand the release of the Guinean president and condemn the coup d'état. According to Africa Intelligence, the heads of state of ECOWAS consider a possible return to power of the overthrown president "extremely hypothetical" and will therefore act accordingly. Nevertheless, the press release "demands the return to constitutional order under penalty of sanctions".
A meeting of heads of state will take place in Accra, ideally on September 7, but no later than September 9. The appointment of a special envoy from ECOWAS is reportedly being studied and it is likely that the CNRD coup plotters will be subject to sanctions.
In a statement by Mamady Doumbaya in 2018, on the occasion of a conference organized by the Foreign Legion, he estimated that “the Whites hold a power that is inaccessible to us. For example, last year I asked for ammunition to train my troops in shooting, but never received it because my leaders fear that I will use it to provoke a coup ”. A fear finally founded ...
I am personally following the situation in Guinea very closely. I strongly condemn any takeover of the government by force of the gun and call for the immediate release of President Alpha Conde.
- António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 5, 2021