Guinea: Justified coup or justified war?

5 November 2009 at 03:23 | 1240 views

Editor’s note: This article is being re-published due to recent events in Guinea. It was first published after the Dadis military junta came to power in Guinea.

By Tony Bee, Sydney, Australia.

Sometimes one hears about a justified coup or justified war in the world, especially in the African continent, where soldiers frequently seize power from corrupt regimes, and also where the poor masses usually wage wars against their governments for being too corrupt.

But if I may ask few questions, are there any justified coups or wars in the world? If yes or no, why? If the answer is yes, on what grounds can a coup or war be justified?

One school of thought says that a coup or war sometimes can be justified where the government in power becomes a dictatorial regime at the expense of the people they govern, where the regime becomes corrupt and subject the people to abject poverty, where the government of the day fails to manage the country’s economy for the benefit of the poor masses that make up the bulk of a country’s population and reduce the people to destitution or in a country where the survival of the fittest is the order of the day.

That is a country where those who are strong will survive while the weak will be crippled and stepped upon by those who are strong or where those in power and the rich with their lieutenants will continue to amass more wealth through corrupt means while those who are poor and powerless will continue to remain in poverty and powerless. Therefore, sometimes in situations like those mentioned, the people have no alternative but to take up arms against such regimes.

In view of tha, sometimes one will tend to justify their course of action or when the military intervenes by booting out such a regime; one will also tend to justify the army’s course of action, although sometimes their genuine course of action or intention may swing out of their control by starting to kill themselves, burning each other’s villages, towns and property in the case of war. While in the case of the military, sometimes they are quick to become more corrupt and wicked towards the people they profess to deliver from the political bondage of a particular selfish and greedy regime.

If the reasons given for which one sometimes may tend to justify a coup or war in a particular country are correct, can I or can we safely say Captain Dadis Camara’s coup on Monday 22, 2008, against the government of late President Lansana Conte in Guinea which many considered to be dictatorial and corrupt is justifiable?

If the answer is yes, can I or can we also softly say the war waged by late Foday Sankoh in March 1991 against the Old APC one party led government by late President Stevens and also his late successor Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh in Sierra Leone which many also saw as a corrupt, dictatorial regime at that time was justifiable? The old APC one party regime comprised of all ethnic groups in the country, especially the butterfly (recycling) unpatriotic selfish and greedy politicians in the country who were the architects of the country’s destruction.

If the answer is yes, will I or will we also safely say the coup that ousted the old APC in April 1992, led by Captain Valentine Strasser was justifiable? That was one of the bloodless coups that made history in the world, especially in the African continent because of the youthful age of the leader of the coup, Captain Strasser, who was 25 years old at that time.

He and his coup makers seized power from the despotic old APC one party regime at a time when the people of Sierra Leone were in dire need of change. The people were fed up with the tyrannical and corrupt system of the old APC regime at the time. At that time Sierra Leoneans were being subjected to unnecessary abject poverty regardless of the vast God given natural resources in a very tiny country like Sierra Leone. There were permanent blackouts, no good health facilities, poor educational system, no good roads, no good drinking water, there was no true justice for the poor.

Therefore, when Captain Strasser and his group came from the war front and kicked out the corrupt old APC regime on that historical day in Sierra Leone there was jubilation all over the country as a sign of justifying the cause of the military. Civilians were clapping and dancing for the military guys with full hope of restoring their lost glory. Yes indeed, Captain Strasser’s regime did very well in fulfilling some of their promises within their first year in office. They were able to provide enough food for the poor Sierra Leoneans, especially rice, the country’s staple food, electricity supply particularly in the city of Freetown and communications, including radio and TV.

But towards the end of their second year in office they started listening to the secret misleading advice of the old unpatriotic enemies of progress, selfish, greedy and power hungry recycling politicians in the country that brought about their division and hatred against one another.

As a result, they started averting the course of their good intentions for the improvement of the lives of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans in the country which they gave as one of the reasons for overthrowing the then despotic APC regime in April 1992. The wicked egoistic power hungry politicians secretly tribalsed, regionalised and sectionalised the young naive guys through secret selfish advice with motives of taking power from them indirectly.

The then good revolution began eating itself by killing one another with the pretext of rebel ambushes, resulting in the name “sobel” which means soldier by day rebel by night. At night some of them transformed themselves into rebels to kill some of their colleagues who had good intentions of ending the war to restore peace in the country and killed innocent civilians for their properties. In view of that the revolution lost its glory in the country.

They also turned their guns against the defenseless and powerless civilians to entrench themselves in power by sponsoring songs, taking people’s wives and property, corruption became common among all soldiers in the country.

Some members of the revolution staged a palace coup against their own leader Captain Strasser who was the real architect of democracy in Sierra Leone by overthrowing the then old untouchable despotic APC one party regime and installed Strasser’s second in command Maada Bio who handed over power to the SLPP in 1996, in a controversial election between John Karefa Smart of the UNPP (Lamp) and the SLPP, which in turn lost power to a brand new APC current government in 2007.

People called it brand new APC because its leader and President, Ernest Bai Koroma and his Vice, Sam Sumana were never involved in any active politics in the country, therefore, I personally called it the new born again APC.

Due to the mentioned episodes, Sierra Leoneans lost confidence in military rule, especially the poor innocent, defenseless and powerless civilians in the country. That’s why when Major Johnny Paul Koroma kicked out the SLPP government in 1997, because it was ineffective and inefficient to govern the people of Sierra Leone, the rest of the masses in the country came out in numbers to denounce the coup. They demonstrated against military rule. They said "no more" to soldier rule in the country because of the bitter experiences they had from the past military governments in the country.

So sometimes the poor and powerless masses of a country always think that the only last hope they have to redeem them from the bondage of a corrupt government is the intervention of the military to kick out that regime. But unfortunately when the soldiers seize power from an impotent and corrupt regime, it is the very poor civilians that welcomed them to justify their course of action that they will start to harass, molest, intimidate, loot their properties and take their wives and sometimes they will become more corrupt than the regime that they accused of being corrupt and impotent with regards to taking care of the wellbeing of the people.

Therefore, if the Guineans are to justify the Moussa Dadis Camara led coup against the despotic late President Lansana Conte’s government, they should be very careful. They might however have the right to justify the coup even if the international community is condemning it, because of the abject poverty to which they have been subjected through misrule and corrupt practices by late Conte’s regime.

But some of the big questions are that will these guys really come to redeem them from poverty and improve their lives without turning their guns against them to harass, molest, intimidate, loot their properties, take their wives? Are they not going to make corruption a free for all for soldiers in the country in the form of paying themselves billions?

Are these young dynamic Guinean soldiers not going to allow the old selfish, greedy, corrupt and unpatriotic power hungry politicians to divide them through misleading advice like the NPRC of Captain Strasser of Sierra Leone which will lead to their eventual downfall?