Guinea, under the name French Guinea, was a part of French West Africa until 1958, when it achieved its independence and Sekou Toure was appointed as the new nation’s first leader. During the cold war, Toure sided with the Soviet Union, US newspapers would refer to the country as “red” Guinea. Touré passed away in March 1984 and the prime minister, Louis Lansana Beavogui, served as president for a month until Lasana Conté toppled him in a military coup, suspended the constitution and banned all political activity. The military administration proclaimed Conté president.
The new president won favor in the west by turning away from his predecessor’s leftwing policies, and after the end of the cold war, with a new constitution he began a transition to a multiparty rule. He won the first multiparty presidential election in 1993, he was re-elected in 1998 and 2003 after a national referendum in 2001 that amended the constitution to extend the presidential term from five to seven years and to allow for unlimited presidential terms.
In his last years in power, Conté, survived an assassination attempt in January 2005. As he grew more unpopular food riots rocked Guinea and he faced a general strike against his rule where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets protesting brutally suppressed by the presidential guard, police and army. The crackdown killed at least 90 people.
Following Conté’s death in 2008, a military junta took control of the country and suspended the constitution that had been adopted in 1991. The military dictatorship stayed in power until 2010, during that time social tensions continued to grow. On September 28, 2009, when the junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara broke his pledge not to run in the next presidential election, tens of thousands of people peacefully gathered at a stadium in protest. Violence was unleashed and security forces killed over 150 people and at least 109 women and girls were subjected to sexual violence. To this day victims of the massacre are still awaiting justice.
Alpha Conde, an opposition politician, became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010. He was reelected in 2015 but faced fierce protests after the 2020 constitutional referendum that included a provision extending the length of terms and allowed Condé to “reset” his term limit and seek two more terms. This was highly controversial and led to a series of violent protests, that only increased after he won his third term election. Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya, the commander of the country’s special forces, overthrew President Alpha Conde in a coup in September 2021 after, he released a broadcast on state television announcing the dissolution of the constitution and government, he accused the president of rampant corruption, human rights abuses, and mismanagement. Lt Col Doumbouya set up the National Committee of Reconciliation and Development with himself as chairman, he ordered the release of political prisoners, and announced an 18-month transition to democracy.
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