In September 2021, a group of high-ranking special operations forces led by Colonel Doumbouya staged a coup in Guinea. The army takeover in Conakry seemed to be part of a regional phenomenon. Leading some journalists to coin the phenomenon as a new coup belt. Nevertheless, the situation is more complex than that. Indeed, Guinea distinguishes itself positively from the other two junta-lead countries of Mali and Burkina Faso. Even if the military junta is repressing democratic opposition (Front National pour la Defence de la Constitution, FNDC) and civil liberties, the level of political violence remains overall low. Among the putschist states in West Africa, Guinea is undoubtedly the least uncompromising.
Conakry’s willingness to engage with the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) should not be underestimated. Conversely, normalisation with Guinea could favour democratic transition, foster the dialogue reopening with Mali and Burkina Faso and hamper the growing Russian ambitions in the region.
Key Judgement 1: The political unrest in Guinea will likely remain consistent, albeit repressed, over the next 6 months. Both the frequent demonstrations and the leaders’ declarations suggest the FNDC will remain the principal contesting actor.
Key Judgement 2: Despite its proximity to Transitional Organised Crime (TOC) hubs (Guinea-Bissau) and deeply unstable countries (Mali), Guinea’s internal security will likely not worsen over the next 6 months.
Key Judgement 3: There is a realistic possibility that ECOWAS and the AU will partially lift their sanctions on Guinea. This could be a strategic attempt to prevent Guinea from sliding towards Russia while reopening dialogue with Mali and Burkina Faso.