Guinea junta leader denounces Western democracy amid wave of coups

Guinea's President Mamadi Doumbouya addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 21, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

DAKAR (Reuters) - Guinea's military leader Mamady Doumbouya told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that the Western model of democracy does not work for Africa, as evidenced by a recent wave of coups.

Doumbouya took power in a coup in 2021, which was one of eight in West and Central Africa in the last three years. Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Gabon are also run by military officers.

The coups have been strongly condemned by the United Nations and Western powers such as the U.S. and France, which have urged democracy to be restored as soon as possible. Doumbouya criticised their response, saying it was racist and condescending.

"Africa is suffering from a governance model that has been imposed on it... a model that is good and effective for the West but is difficult to adapt to our realities, our customs and environment," he told world leaders gathered in New York.

"It is time to stop lecturing us and stop treating us with condescension like children," he said, adding that Africans were mature enough to design their own models of governance.

Doumbouya's government proposed a two-year transition to elections in 2022 after negotiating with regional bloc ECOWAS, but has shown little sign of moving to organise a vote.

Western countries such as France have been particularly concerned by the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where the military governments have moved to cut ties with their former colonial ruler and strengthen relations with Russia.

Doumbouya said that African countries were being unfairly placed into boxes and forced to take sides in an ideological battle from the Cold War era, which was not relevant to their current-day relations.

Africans are neither pro- nor anti- American, Chinese, French, Russian or Turkish, he said, they are "simply pro-African".

"Placing us under the influence of this or that power is an insult. It is contempt and racism towards a continent of more than 1.3 billion people."

Doumbouya took power by overthrowing Alpha Conde, Guinea's then 84-year-old president who had changed the constitution to run for a third term, sparking widespread protests.

"The real putschists, the most numerous and those who avoid any condemnation, are also those who plot and scheme... in order to stay in power eternally," Doumbouya said.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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