By Abubakar Hashim/Freetown
President Bio’s visit to Guinea today is extremely significant for two strategic reasons
First, as the first president to visit the new military Head, Col Mamady Doumbouya, since the coup of 5 September 2021, it sends a signal to the international Community of regime stability in Guinea
Second, as former military head of state and a close door neighbour, President Bio will discuss lingering thorny issues like trade facilitation on the border, Yenga land dispute and others with his host.
Yenga is a border, riverine cluster of villages, a shouting distance between Sierra Leone and Guinea
Both countries have historically laid claims to the territory
Though Guinea, under former President Conde had ceded the area to Sierra Leone, Guinean military forces occasionally invade the area and accosting Sierra Leonean villagers, leading to uproar and tensions.
Security was also top on the agenda of Bio’s visit
Guinea is the powerhouse in the Mano River Union MRU Countries of SL, Liberia and Guinea, both militarily and economically. Joint security patrol on the border since the coup on 5 September top the agenda of security talks of Bio’s visit.
As President Bio stated in this visit, “Sierra Leone will stand by Guinea as Guinea did during the 11-year-old war in Sierra Leone, as I was a military officer who saw at first hand the operational dynamics of the war.”
Doumbouya, the 41-year-old former French legionnaire, according to a BBC report, said the army had little choice but to seize power because of the rampant corruption, disregard for human rights and economic mismanagement under the 83-year-old President Condé. “Col Doumbouya’s takeover means that he is currently the second-youngest leader of an African state. Only Mali’s Col Assimi Goïta, who has been in power since staging a coup in May, is younger, having been born in 1983.”
The military putsch in Guinea generated condemnations worldwide. On 8 September, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders held a meeting in Accra, Ghana and, apart from suspending Guinea from the sub-regional body, decided to freeze the financial assets of and impose travel bans on Guinea’s military leaders and their relatives. ECOWAS insisted on the release of Conde and a short transition.
“In six months elections should be held,” said ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou at a briefing.