September 30, 2021

Africa

GUINEA: Miners’ ‘selective review’ risks persist amid transition charter

BY Malte Liewerscheidt

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On 27 September, the junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya issued a ‘transition charter’ outlining the guiding principles, institutions, and mechanisms governing the transition phase, which remains without an official end date. Unsurprisingly, the charter confirms the junta’s central role in the process and installs Doumbouya as president with far-reaching powers. While the charter’s short-term focus is on maintaining order and continuity but silent on concrete policies, as analyzed previously, mining companies may still become subject to’selective reviews’ in the months to come. Furthermore, as the junta meets the conditions stipulated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about half-way, the risk of the regional body leveling up the limited sanctions on Guinea currently in place appears limited.

Publication of the charter follows consultations between the junta and various stakeholders, including political parties, civil society groups, unions and employer associations between 14 and 23 September. Starting off with a liberal-sounding’bill of rights’, the charter reserves a central role for the National Committee of the Rally for Development (CNRD), the military junta whose exact composition remains unknown. Doumbouya will serve as transition president with powers to nominate a – civilian – prime minister, as well as all 81 members of a transitional parliament that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

While the charter does not address economic issues specifically, the few bits that deal with business directly suggest continuity remains the short-term goal. Most notably, the charter’s article 28 guarantees the right to property and makes expropriation in the case of overriding public interest subject to compensation in accordance with existing laws. As discussed previously, the junta does not appear to follow any social-revolutionary agenda; however, this does not preclude Doumbouya from selectively targeting certain mining companies with links to the toppled government of President Alpha Conde. The charter contains references to corruption and economic and financial crimes similar to those Doumbouya had already used in justifying his 5 September coup d’etat. Executive and legislative initiatives by Doumbouya and his hand-picked transition parliament in the months to come will thus inform the junta’s inclination to go down the’selective review’ path.

Meanwhile, in an apparent major concession to ECOWAS, the charter excludes any member of any transitional institution (alongside members of the former government) from running in national or local elections that are envisaged to mark the end the transition phase. The respective sections are protected by ‘eternity clauses’ from potential future charter changes. While the length of the transition remains undefined, even though ECOWAS had demanded that presidential and parliamentary elections be held within six months, this concession will likely be enough to avert stricter ECOWAS sanctions in the short term.

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