By: Carolyn DeSiena
Pace International Law Review, Junior AssociateThe African Union (AU) has announced recently that it will temporarily stay the suspension on Guinea due to various domestic and international factors. In December 2008, a military coup shook Guinea, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, shortly after the death of longtime ruler Lansana Conté. While at first a dictator in the 1980s, Conté changed his strict military ways when he ran in a democratic election in 1993 and won. His presidency was the mark of an institutional transition for Guinea, but the economic situation did not greatly improve. Captain Camara cited the weak economy as a rationale for the overthrow of government, but the African Union and international actors disagreed with such a justification.
Shortly after the coup, the African Union (AU) imposed a suspension on Guinea and, as of today, it is still in place. The AU has said that lifting a suspension too early could inhibit a peaceful democratic transition. The president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaore, has helped mediate efforts in light of the current crises to restore democracy in Guinea, underscoring the importance of free and fair trials. While the military leaders in Guinea have signed an agreement to lead a peaceful transition, the Security Council supports the decision of the AU to keep the suspension in place. It is probable that Guinea will not be restored to full member status until an entirely new government takes power.
The military junta currently in control has released statements that it is committed to continuing the legacy of peace that the late President Conté provided, but this has not been enough for the AU. It is clear that the AU demands action, and not simply an uncertain promise. It appears, however, that the people of Guinea do require some form of change from the Conté government due to its history of corruption. The AU and UN both agree that the only way that such change can occur is through purely democratic means.