The World Today for March 26, 2024


Iron Junta


The leader of the junta that runs Guinea, Gen. Mamadi Doumbouya, recently sacked the head of the state electricity company and his deputies.

Doumbouya, who read the announcement on national television, made the decision after power cuts triggered deadly protests in the West African country, reported Bloomberg. An eight-year old and 14-year-old died in the protests, added Agence France-Presse, noting that, while Guinea is blessed with mineral and natural resources, it suffers from energy shortages.

Doumbouya’s dictatorial rule hasn’t helped, either.

Last month, security officers killed two other young people during demonstrations against the government, Al Jazeera wrote. The demonstrations were part of an open-ended general strike that kicked off a week after the junta dissolved the transitional government running the country since July 2022. The government was put in place nine months after Doumbouya had led a coup overthrowing President Alpha Condé, who had clung to power in spite of term limits.

People took to the streets to call for the release of human rights activists, government action to reduce food prices, and the ceasing of media censorship.

The junta never gave a reason for dissolving the government. Doumbouya had appointed the country’s previous former prime minister, Bernard Goumou, noted the BBC. It’s possible that the general could no longer tolerate power struggles within the government, suggested Africa Report. Justice Minister Alphonse Charles Wright, for instance, was calling for prosecutions against corrupt public officials, according to Agence de Presse Africaine.

The new prime minister whom Doumbouya appointed, Ahmadou Oury Bah, has a reputation as a skillful executive who can reconcile the county’s disparate factions, wrote World Politics Review. He’s appointed a diverse cabinet that includes junta leaders, seven women, and a human rights activist to oversee elections.

The cabinet also includes a new mining minister, Bouna Sylla, reported Reuters. Sylla will be charged with making sure the junta and the country in general receive the revenues they need to improve Guinea’s economy. The recent protests have impacted mining, a crucial source of foreign capital in the country, added Mining Magazine.

Guinea has important opportunities that Doumbouya could help the country to exploit.

Australian-British mining giant Rio Tinto, for example, recently announced that the company’s board had approved a $20 billion project that will include the biggest iron ore mine in the world in Simandou, southern Guinea, as well as a nearly 350-mile-long rail line and a new port, reported the Financial Times. Seven other companies, including five Chinese firms, are partners in the massive mine project.

Chinese demand for metals from the mine for infrastructure, especially electric vehicles and charging stations, will likely remain strong for years.

Unfortunately, added the Financial Times, that likely won’t bring ordinary Guineans more liberty or prosperity.

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