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Another Day Of Shame For Aging ECOWAS

By: G.Yanquoi Lavela, Esq., Jur. D.

President William V.S.Tubman of Liberia

Founded as the brainchild of President William V.S.Tubman of Liberia in 1964, as a counterweight to the previous CFA (Colonies Françaises d'Afrique) of 1945, but who never lived to see it come to full fruition in 1975, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), far from the realization of its founding principles as a legal mechanism for the promotion of sisterhood among member states to benefit the economic and social advancement of its citizens, has now become the laughing stock of the world and a total embarrassment to most Africans as a feckless tool of the West. That description was no less true in their ineffective intervention in the recent military coup d’etat in the West African nation of Mali than it is now, with the unceremonious removal from power of President Alpha Condé of Guinea, whose many crimes against the people was not only limited to comprehensively looting the state treasury, but also that he undermined the constitutional order of the republic to hold power in perpetuity, and killed or imprisoned many Guinean political opposition members.

If I may take the poetic license in paraphrasing the exchanges between ECOWAS and the young Guinean leadership of the CNRD (National Committee of Reconciliation and Development), here are the Guinean coup leaders’ responses to ECOWAS’s threats of travel bans, economic sanctions against the new leadership of Guinea, and deadlines to return to civilian rule. “Your travel bans have no effect on us”, they said, “because we don’t intend to travel anywhere. Our only travel destination is the Republic of Guinea. And your threats of freezing our assets are meaningless to us because we do not have any assets to freeze”, they replied. And they further went on to tell ECOWAS that, “The people of Guinea will not be governed by artificial deadlines from other countries. The only deadlines that matter to us are the ones imposed by the people of Guinea themselves.” And with that terse exchange, the fate of the deposed President, Alpha Condé, was sealed when the CNRD rejected demands by ECOWAS for his immediate and unconditional release to leave the country. They mocked ECOWAS as comprising of leaders whose own populations are suffering from the same gross incompetence, corruption and mismanagement of their national resources, and cannot even enforce their own sanctions without asking the international community for help.

ECOWAS Chairperson, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo

It is hard to take seriously the current ECOWAS Chairperson, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who gave lofty speeches about “Ghana Beyond Aid”, which emphasized economic partnerships between Africa and the west and not handouts, while at the same time he is unable to see that a country like Guinea, with the world’s largest deposits of Bauxite, Diamonds, Gold, and other precious minerals, cannot meaningfully participate in such economic arrangements, if corrupt leaderships are diverting the mineral revenues to private bank accounts. These young people are fed up with the status quo of the postcolonial leaderships of Africa who have become convenient tools of their former colonial masters and neocolonialists to repress the will of their people, and to facilitate the economic exploitation and plunder of Africa’s vast natural resources. The supreme duty of a military within the constitutional architecture of a republic is not only to repel external invasions and suppress internal rebellions, but also to remove the tyrannical yoke of oppression from the necks of demoralized citizens. This appears to be exactly what the Guinean military has done and has the full popular backing of all Guineans, who did not hide their overwhelming support for the military when they booed and jeered at the departing ECOWAS delegation and told them to leave the country.

About Mamady Doumbouya, the new leader of the Guinean CNRD, a few words must be said. He is a robust 41-year old charismatic father and husband, with a towering and imposing figure, who comes from the eastern administrative region of Kankan next to the border with Mali. He is a highly decorated military officer and a Corporal of the legendary French Foreign Legions, who are renowned for their superior military skills, particularly in the executions of defensive and offensive operational missions. Their combined rigid selection criteria and extremely rigorous physical endurance required for admission has whittled down their total numbers to only 8,900, because only 1 out of every 9 candidates can meet that very difficult test. Doumbouya not only passed this high bar for admission in this elite branch of the French Army, but also became a ranking officer of the French Foreign Legions. He is also a graduate of the elite Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) special tactical training program, with several tours of duty in international conflict zones to Afghanistan and Iraq. It was because of his superior military skills that he was recruited by the now deposed President Alpha Condé of Guinea to return home and lead the elite special presidential guards unit of the Guinean army, and was given the best military equipment and soldiers to guard the President. His white French wife is also a member and current officer of the National French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale or French National Police), which is a branch of the French military with capabilities equivalent to combat readiness in regional conflicts, as opposed to its separate and distinct civilian counterpart responsible for local policing. Between him and his wife they have three charming little boys. So, in effect, this was a classic palace coup that was bound to happen when the fox was asked to mind the chickens. And perhaps because Professor Alpha Condé had probably never read Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous works, “The Prince and The Discourse”, he made a breathtaking error of judgment, when he drastically reduced the military’s budget, while increasing the presidential “play money” or allowance budget by a thousandfold. How could he reasonably expect a starving military to continue to provide him daily security and protection, while their children went to bed every night on hungry stomachs? Monstrous!!! Off with him to the guillotines just for stupidity alone, without more. These soldiers are coming to work everyday, locked and loaded, and ready to do battle or even die in neutralizing any perceive threats to the president. Just as a practical matter, don’t you think if you, the president, starved them and their families they might turn their guns on you? Machiavelli wrote his two masterpieces referenced above as a practical advice to dictators of his day, particularly to his patron Florentine dynasty of the House of the Medici of Italy, about what not to do when you want to stay in power as a prince. Doumbouya’s favorite quotation is that of the late Ghanaian military coup plotter and former President, Jerry John Rawlings (1947-2020), who said that: “If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom.” BINGO! That aside, Machiavelli’s said that: “The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.” A leader who is truly loved by the people has nothing to fear.