Putsch ou trucage de la Constitution: la légitimité du pouvoir est-elle différente ?

Le coup d’état récent en Guinée a déjà fait couler pas mal d’ancre. Un Guinéen lambda interviewé par une chaine internationale disait spontanément « La CEDEAO n’a rien à nous apprendre. Où était-elle quand le Président a poussé pour un troisième mandat pourtant controversé ? ». La suite de ce putsch reste encore incertaine, mais ces coups d’états font à réfléchir…...

Some persons are luckier in life than others…. Some countries are luckier than others…. Guinea is a country that, judged by its resources, should have more impressive socio-economic performance indicators than it has to date, with some two thirds of its population facing multidimensional poverty. Guinea happens to be the country where I put my very first steps on African soil. It was in the year after Sekou Touré’s death… the end of a regime that started courageously but evolved into horror. It coincided at the time with a strong national believe in change (then called “redressement national”).  Some 36 years later it appears still a vision for the future.

So, there was a military putsch in Guinea early September 2021…. another one in the series of recent coups in West-Africa. For now, there are more questions than answers about these coups that generate on top mixed feelings. For example:

  • Is a military putsch more illegitimate than highly controversial constitutional amendments aimed at allowing those in power to be eligible for yet another term (or more)?
  • Is a military coup worse than rigged elections resulting in quasi-for-life presidencies?
  • Aren’t such contentious constitutional changes and manipulations of elections in order to stay in power also a variation to the same putsch theme?
  • If voters do not manage to bring about change in governance (in case of election fraud), is it per definition wrong that the country’s military defends their voice?
  • Are these coups indeed taking place in the name of ‘the people’ or rather driven and supported by certain interest groups (local/foreign)?
  • Why are some coups (Mali; Guinea) more questioned than others (Tchad)?
  • Why is “the West” more vocal about coups in Africa than those elsewhere (cf. military takeovers in Thailand and Myanmar)?
  • Are we surprised that regional bodies (in this case ECOWAS) vehemently condemn such a putsch, as several Member States’ leaders may fear it could happen to them as well back home?

While the UN was initially outright condemning the recent putsch, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General sent to Guinea after the putsch already made reference to a transition period to return power to civilians. Even the UN seems not fully certain “à quel saint se vouer” at this stage.

In brief, there are certainly more questions than answers at this point in time about the recent coups. But it seems an oversimplification to qualify a putsch per definition as bad or at least worse than civil power that abuses its position.  As always, the devil will be in the details.


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