Guinea dissolves leading opposition group amid political unrest
The junta-appointed government of Guinea has dissolved the country’s leading opposition movement, the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), under a decree authenticated by AFP on Tuesday.
The FNDC, an alliance of political parties, unions and citizen groups, led protests against former President Alpha Conde before he was ousted in a coup last year.
Friction between the FNDC and the junta has been mounting for months, culminating in a coalition announcement on Monday that it would stage demonstrations on August 17.
A decree, dated Saturday, declared the dissolution of the FNDC, signed by Minister of Territorial Administration Mory Conde. It was verified by AFP on Tuesday.
“The de facto group called the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution is to be disbanded … effective from the date of its signature,” the ruling said.
Rumors of the decree spread on social media late Monday.
It said the FNDC’s “operational mode is based on violent attacks (carried out) during prohibited demonstrations, attacks on individuals who do not share their ideology, and targeted attacks on the security forces.”
The organization has “conducted the behavior of battle groups and private militias… which threaten national unity, public peace and cohabitation,” it said.
The West African state is rich in minerals but deeply poor and has seen little stability since it gained independence from France in 1958.
In 2010, Conde, now 84 years old, became the country’s first democratically elected president.
But his popularity plummeted during his second term as critics accused him of authoritarianism and opposition protests were violently suppressed.
Dozens died, the vast majority of them civilians, in protests launched by the FNDC.
On September 5, as anger mounted over Conde’s successful bid for a third term — a move he defended under a constitutional amendment — mutinous forces rioted.
Junta strongman Mamady Doumbouya has pledged to return power to elected citizens within three years.
The timeline has brought the junta into conflict with the region’s bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
ECOWAS President, Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, said late last month that he had convinced the junta to shorten the transition to two years. But that figure has not been confirmed by Guinea.
Cellou Dalein Diallo, a leading opposition figure under Conde, condemned the decision to dissolve the FNDC, calling it “a blow to freedom, justice, democracy and peace” in a social media post.
Demonstrations broke out in Guinea on July 28 and 29 over concerns that the junta was dragging its feet on re-establishing civilian rule, killing five.
The FNDC called for nationwide protests on Aug. 17 on Monday to condemn the lack of “credible dialogue” and the use of deadly weapons against protesters. The organization also calls for the release of imprisoned supporters.
Coalition communications officer Abdoulaye Oumou Sow declined to comment on the dissolution order on Tuesday.
But the Guinean Organization for the Defense of Human Rights (OGDH) separately warned that “seizing civil liberties or silencing all dissenting voices will only complicate the situation.”
It said it was “very concerned… by the turn of events”.
Two FNDC leaders, Oumar Sylla and Ibrahima Diallo, were jailed after the July demonstrations.
They have been charged with participating in an illegal gathering, destruction of property and bodily harm.
The organization suspended its activities for a week, including a demonstration scheduled for August 4, in response to a call for calm from ECOWAS on August 1.