Security Updates

Mali Advisory (11 Jan 2022)

Over the weekend, regional bloc ECOWAS imposed new sanctions on Mali as the transitional government in the West African country attempts to extend its hold on power. The move to impose a raft of economic and diplomatic sanctions was in response to Malian military leaders’ desire to push back elections until 2025. With a number of airlines from neighbouring countries and former colonial ruler France cancelling flights to Mali on 10 January, the military junta is increasingly being isolated as repercussions from the August 2020 military coup and continued political upheaval continue. This isolation however could enable Russia to further strengthen its ties with the West African nation.

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Situation Update – Ethiopia (5 November 2021)

A year into the war in Ethiopia, and rebellious forces from the country’s Tigray region have pushed to within a day’s drive of the capital city Addis Ababa and are threatening to march on the city. The situation has been further complicated by the announcement late on 4 November 2021 by a broad coalition of Ethiopian armed groups and political actors who say that they will form a new alliance on Friday 5 November “in response to the scores of crises facing the country” and to fight against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. As fighting continues on the ground and concerns grow about the security situation in the capital, the United Nations Security Council is set to hold a public meeting on Friday afternoon about the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia as calls earlier in the week for a ceasefire by the East African bloc and the European Union have gone unanswered.  

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As of 20 September, the nightly 22:00 – 06:00 curfew continues to be in place until further notice. As of 15 September, the National Committee of Rally and Development (CNRD) has announced the gradual reopening of Guinea’s land borders following the coup earlier this month. The borders reopening will be scheduled as follows: border with Sierra Leone by 15 September; border with Liberia by 16 September; border with Ivory Coast by 17 September; border with Mali by 18 September; border with Guinea-Bissau by 20 September; and the border with Senegal by 24 September.

On Tuesday 14 September, the junta launched a week-long consultation with political, religious and business leaders that it says will lead to the formation of a transitional government. The four-day talks, which began with a meeting with leaders of the main political parties on Tuesday, are expected to lay out the framework of a promised government of national unity that would lead the country back to constitutional order. The talks are expected to define the duration of the transitional period, what political and institutional reforms are needed before elections, and who will lead the transition. The meeting with political parties on Tuesday will be followed by a meeting with representatives of regional governments, then religious organizations, civil society organizations, diplomatic missions, heads of mining companies and business leaders which are also scheduled for meetings with the junta thorough this week. While the talks concluded on Friday, the junta has yet to comment on the results of the discussions or disclose what timeline it has in mind for the transitional period.  

 On Thursday 16 September, the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc held an emergency summit to decide how to respond to the coup in Guinea and how to pressure the junta leaders to return the country to constitutional rule. ECOWAS has condemned the putsch that overthrew President Alpha Condé. Last week, the bloc suspended Guinea from the decision-making bodies of the organization and sent a mission to meet the coup leaders on Friday 10 September. Following the conclusion of Thursday’s summit, ECOWAS announced that it has agreed to freeze the financial assets and impose travel bans on junta members and their relatives. It has also demanded the unconditional release of ousted Guinea President Condé and a short transitional period. Speaking at a briefing following the summit, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou disclosed that elections should be held within a six-month period.

The following day, Friday 17 September, Guinean President Nana Akufo Addo, the current chair of ECOWAS, along with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara travelled to Conakry where they met with the country’s new junta leaders. While the visit was aimed at securing the release of former Guinean leader Alpha Condé, Guinea’s junta leaders on Friday disclosed that Condé would not be allowed to seek exile, adding that they would not cave to mounting pressure from regional mediators who have imposed targeted sanctions. Both Ouattara and Akufo-Addo held a separate meeting with Condé at the Mohamed VI palace in Conakry. While according to senior regional government official the one-day visit to Conakry was aimed at asking coup leader Mahamdy Doumbouya for Condé’s release, both West African leaders flew out of Guinea on Friday evening empty-handed.

 Following this week’s meetings with ECOWAS, the junta’s spokesman disclosed on Saturday 18 September that Guinea’s coup leader had told the delegation of West African leaders that he was not concerned about new sanctions imposed by the regional bloc last week. Speaking during a briefing on Saturday, junta spokesman Amara Camara disclosed that Doumbouya has shrugged off the move, telling high-level ECOWAS envoys that “as soldiers, their work is in Guinea and there is nothing to freeze in their accounts.” The comment was made during talks between Doumbouya and the Ivorian and Ghanaian presidents who visited Conakry on Friday. While ECOWAS has also demanded a six-month transitional period in Guinea, Doumbouya told the delegation that the will of the Guinean people should be taken into account, according to Camara.

On Sunday 19 September, the country’s junta arrested a former minister and ransacked his home before releasing him several hours later. On Sunday morning armed men raided Tibou Kamara’s apartment in Conakry and took him to an undisclosed location. He was freed in the afternoon, though several items, including mobile phones, were seized. His arrest was confirmed by the ruling CNRD as well as his team, with coup leaders accusing him of violating a commitment to remain neutral towards the military administration currently in power. Kamara had been an industry minister and an adviser to former President Alpha Condé.

MS Risk Advisory

While calm has been restored in Guinea, the situation remains fluid and further instability could occur with little warning. Movement restrictive measures, telecommunications disruptions, and disruptions to state and business operations are likely to continue in the coming days. Clashes between rival security force factions may also continue after clashes erupted on 5 September resulting in the death of five military personnel. Further public gatherings in response to developments are likely nationwide and these could be in favour of the coup or in support of the Condé government. Any gathering is likely to be met by a security force deployment. Clashes are possible at all protest locations.

 Anyone considering travelling to Guinea is advised to defer travel until the situation stabilizes. Anyone currently in Guinea, including in Conakry and in other major city centres, is advised to monitor the local media and to maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Avoid concentrations of security personnel. Avoid all protests as they may turn violent with little warning. Plan for road travel delays and reconfirm all scheduled transport services, including flights, prior to departure.

Current Situation 

As of 10 September, a nightly 22:00 – 06:00 curfew continues to be in place until further notice.

Envoys from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are due in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Friday 10 September to discuss ways to return the country to constitutional order following the weekend coup. The delegation had been due to arrive in the capital on 9 September however two sources in Guinea’s junta have disclosed that the delegation was delayed to Friday. ECOWAS has suspended Guinea’s members from the bloc though it stopped short of imposing further sanctions. The ECOWAS delegation will be led by the Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Shirly Botchway and Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Alpha Barry. A high-ranking regional official disclosed on Thursday that the envoys will push the junta to appoint a “credible” civilian prime minister as soon as possible in order to help steer Guinea back towards constitutional order.

The African Union (AU) has suspended Guinea in the wake of Sunday’s coup, according to a tweet on 10 September from the AU’s Political Affairs Peace and Security Department.

Meanwhile in Guinea, junta leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya continues to strengthen his hold on power, ordering the central bank and other banks on Thursday to freeze all government accounts. A junta spokesman announced on the national broadcaster that the banking freeze was aimed at “securing state assets,” adding that “this includes public administrative and commercial establishments in all ministries and the presidency, presidential programmes and projects, members of the outgoing government as well as senior officials and administrators of state financial institutions.”

Within the international community, the United States on Thursday, disclosed that it was not involved in the military seizure of power after a video emerged on social media of US soldiers in a crowd of jubilant Guineans as events unfolded on Sunday. In a statement, the US State Department disclosed that prior to the coup, a small team of US service members were engaged in a joint training exercise outside the capital Conakry. The statement went on to say that “given the changing security situation, it was decided that the team would be relocated to the US Embassy in Conakry. Guinean security forces provided an escort to Conakry to ensure the safe passage of the team,” adding that the video appeared to depict part of that relocation.

MS Risk Advisory

Movement restrictive measures, telecommunications disruptions, and disruptions to state and business operations are likely to continue in the coming days. Clashes between rival security force factions may also continue after clashes erupted on 5 September resulting in the death of five military personnel. Further public gatherings in response to developments are likely nationwide and these could be in favour of the coup or in support of the Condé government. Any gathering is likely to be met by a security force deployment. Clashes are possible at all protest locations.

Anyone considering travelling to Guinea is advised to defer travel until the situation stabilizes. Anyone currently in Guinea, including in Conakry and in other major city centres, is advised to monitor the local media and to maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Avoid concentrations of security personnel. Avoid all protests as they may turn violent with little warning. Plan for road travel delays and reconfirm all scheduled transport services, including flights, prior to departure.

Current Situation

As of 9 September, a nightly 22:00 – 06:00 curfew continues to be in place until further notice. As of Thursday, the usual traffic and street hawkers were once again clogging the streets of the capital city, Conakry. The only roads still manned by military checkpoints are those leading towards the Kaloum peninsula, the capital’s administrative centre and the location of the presidential palace.

A delegation from West Africa’s main political and economic bloc ECOWAS is due to arrive in Conakry on Thursday 9 September, just a day after the bloc suspended Guinea’s membership in response to the 5 September coup. A statement released by ECOWAS disclosed that its representatives will “assess the situation” following Sunday’s ouster of President Alpha Condé. ECOWAS however made no mention of any possible sanctions against the coup regime or its leader Mahamdy Doumbouya. The delegation will be led by the 15-nation group’s president, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, and Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.

On 8 September, ECOWAS announced the suspension of Guinea’s membership in the wake of the coup. During a virtual summit, leaders of the 15-member ECOWAS demanded a return to the constitutional order and Condé’s immediate release. While ECOWAS previously imposed sanctions on Mali shortly after a coup in that country in August 2020, it is believed that ECOWAS’s leverage with Guinea could be limited, in part because the country is not a member of the West African currency union and is not landlocked like Mali. ECOWAS’s response to West Africa’s latest coup is being closely watched amidst criticism from pro-democracy advocates that it has not stood up robustly enough in recent months against democratic backsliding in West Africa. The bloc remained silent last year as Condé and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara sought third terms in office after changing constitutions that would have enforced them to step down, moves that were denounced as illegal by their opponents.

Meanwhile coup leader Col Doumbouya continues to consolidate his support base. On 8 September, he met with ambassadors from Russia, China, Turkey, France and the United States. He has also met with Jordanian military instructors in hopes of developing a programme to train an elite anti-terrorism unit, according to Guinea’s state broadcaster. On 8 September, Doumbouya, in an effort to sweep away any leadership associated with Condé’s administration, ordered that all Guinea’s police and gendarmerie commanders be replaced by their deputies.

MS Risk Advisory

Movement restrictive measures, telecommunications disruptions, and disruptions to state and business operations are likely to continue in the coming days. Clashes between rival security force factions may also continue after clashes erupted on 5 September resulting in the death of five military personnel. Further public gatherings in response to developments are likely nationwide and these could be in favour of the coup or in support of the Condé government. Any gathering is likely to be met by a security force deployment. Clashes are possible at all protest locations.

Anyone considering travelling to Guinea is advised to defer travel until the situation stabilizes. Anyone currently in Guinea, including in Conakry and in other major city centres, is advised to monitor the local media and to maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Avoid concentrations of security personnel. Avoid all protests as they may turn violent with little warning. Plan for road travel delays and reconfirm all scheduled transport services, including flights, prior to departure.