By María Rodríguez
Dakar, Sep 6 (EFE).- The President of Guinea-Conakry Alpha Conde, detained on Sunday in a coup d’etat staged by the military, is being forced to step down after 11 years in office, which saw him fall from grace as a hardened democrat to an autocrat desperately clinging to power.
Conde insisted on retaining the presidential seat by calling for a referendum that allowed him to change the constitution and run for a third term, overcoming the constitutional limit of two terms that would have ended his tenure on December 21, 2020.
His detractors organized protests to condemn his actions before a brutal clampdown killed at least 50 people, according to Amnesty International. The opposition claims there were more than 90 fatalities.
Conde’s promises included favouring equality, helping the youth, bringing development to mining communities, elevating Guineans’ standards of living, and improving water and electricity supplies in a country that continues to sink as one of the poorest in the world despite its great wealth of natural resources.
However, a Lahidi report that tracked and evaluated vows made by Conde and his administration says that between 2015 and 2020, the 83-year-old leader only delivered 13% of his pledges.
The soldiers that detained Conde justified the coup by saying that it was motivated by “the (government’s) lack of respect for democratic principles, the excessive politicization of the public administration, poor financial management, endemic poverty and corruption.”
Conde, coming from a wealthy background, had moved at 15 years old to Paris, where he studied law and was awarded a Phd at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University.
He was a lifelong detractor of Sekou Toure, father of the Guinean independence and authoritarian leader between 1958 and 1984, and was a prominent figure in the fight to introduce democracy and a multi-party system in the country during the 90s, after the death of Toure.
However, his ideas failed to take root in the country, as general Lansana Conte, who led the coup that toppled Toure’s government, clung to power, and Conde was eventually jailed until a presidential pardon freed him in 2001.