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Christians Welcome Coup in Guinea…… | Information & Reporting

In its 63 years of independence, Guinea has had three presidents. Final month, the West African nation suffered its third coup d’etat.

This time, says the native Christian minority, their Francophone nation would possibly simply get it proper.

“Alpha Conde can not return,” mentioned Etienne Leno, a Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) pastor. “We’re praying that the brand new army authorities—who we discover to be smart and clever—can be led by God.”

On September 5, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, head of the Guinean particular forces, ousted the 83-year-old president. As soon as an imprisoned opposition chief, Conde grew to become the nation’s first democratically elected head of state in 2010 and received a second time period in 2015.

Leno initially discovered a lot hope in Conde’s mandate, which was ushered in after the worldwide neighborhood aided home forces to take away the army junta that violently seized energy in 2008. Conde improved the enterprise, tourism, and power sectors, restoring Guinea’s international repute.

Native infrastructure was uncared for, nevertheless, and the Oregon-sized nation lagged in home improvement. One-third of the financial system was linked to the mining of bauxite, the first useful resource for aluminum. Guinea boasts the world’s largest reserves, however overseas firms dominate the extraction.

Regardless of 7 % annual progress, almost 50 % of the 13 million inhabitants lived in poverty. And by late 2019, 36 % of the nation believed Guinea was shifting within the fallacious path.

After which Conde made his energy seize. He pushed by means of a March 2020 referendum for constitutional modifications to reset his time period limits and in October received reelection once more. Each votes had been challenged by violently suppressed protests.

Virtually a 12 months later, Doumbouya had had sufficient.

He promised no political witch hunt as he “made like to Guinea,” nevertheless it was nonetheless clear that opposition wouldn’t be tolerated. Because the colonel—sworn in on October 1 as Guinea’s interim president—assembled a nationwide dialogue, protests in help stuffed the streets and Christians noted the stunning calm.

5 days after the coup, the Affiliation of Evangelical Church buildings and Missions of Guinea (AEMEG)—affiliated with the World Evangelical Alliance—issued a televised assertion recognizing the brand new authorities. Catholic and Muslim teams made comparable bulletins.

“Relations are good generally,” Leno instructed CT. “Our message is for peace and nationwide unity.”

One facet of the takeover might have helped guarantee it: Doumbouya shares the identical Malinke ethnicity as Conde. Representing one-third of Guineans, the Malinke are second in inhabitants to the Fulbe individuals (41%), extra extensively recognized throughout West Africa as Fulani. Each teams are Muslim, as is the third-largest ethnic group, the Soussu (12%).

The Ministry of Non secular Affairs counts Christians as 8 % of the inhabitants, with the remaining 7 % belonging to conventional religions. Christians are usually from the Kpelle and different smaller ethnic teams, although conversions have taken place amongst all tribes.

“We’re grateful to God for our non secular freedom, on this second of disaster,” mentioned Emmanuel Ouamouno, an Assemblies of God (AG) pastor and head of the evangelical radio ministry IBRA. ”We pray for our varied non secular leaders to serve collectively in advancing the rules of God’s kingdom.”

It will likely be important. Whereas solely 52 % of Guineans belief the army, 79 % belief their religious guides.

Ouamouno is staying impartial.

“If the military takes on the wants of the inhabitants, will probably be troublesome to take energy out of their arms,” he toldEvangelical Focus. “Every thing will rely upon how the military behaves.”

Instantly after the coup, the Financial Neighborhood of West African States (ECOWAS) issued sanctions on junta leaders. Already coping with supposedly transitional army management in Mali and Chad, the regional physique referred to as for elections inside six months.

Early indicators could also be encouraging.

Although no timeline was given, Doumbouya promised neither he nor any transitional official will run for workplace. A nationwide council of 81 individuals can be established, consisting of politicians, commerce unions, businessmen, youth, and safety members, with 30 % feminine illustration. Serving because the legislature, they are going to draft a brand new structure and put together for native, regional, and nationwide elections.

And on October 7, Doumbouya fulfilled his pledge to nominate a civilian prime minister, selecting a revered diplomat and financial improvement knowledgeable.

Although the coup seems to be in style, help for democracy is robust, favored by 77 % of Guineans. The identical share rejects army rule. And 76 % help time period limits—the problem that upended Conde’s presidency.

“We must always all take part within the restoration of democracy, in prayer and if essential, in demonstrations,” mentioned Tamba Kondiano, an AG pastor. “We aren’t formally taking a place, however we stay vigilant and are able to accompany the brand new authorities.”

Guineans as soon as welcomed Conde as a “signal of reduction,” he mentioned, and urged warning. The previous president nonetheless instructions 90 % help amongst his ethnic group, he estimated. Amongst Christians, nevertheless, it has dropped to single digits.

Violence was extreme in Nzerekore, a predominantly Christian metropolis within the southeastern forested area, the place Muslim supporters of Conde clashed with Christians and animists over the referendum. Mosques and church buildings had been broken within the melee, which killed 30 individuals and injured 70.

In 2013, an analogous battle within the metropolis, Guinea’s second largest, killed 54.

Ethnic politics characterizes the nation, a number of Guinean sources instructed CT, and elections predictably encompass two rounds.

Within the first spherical, the Fulbe candidate wins a plurality however falls in need of the 51 % essential for victory. Within the runoff, the Malinke and Soussu—whose ethnic teams share extra similarities—staff as much as defeat the “outsiders,” whose 18th-century jihad conquered the realm. Christians, who’re concentrated within the cities, the southern coast, and the forested areas, have a tendency to hitch the opposite minorities.

Earlier than Conde, the second president was Soussu. The primary president was Malinke. Many Fulbe imagine it’s now their tribe’s flip. Their main politician, Cellou Diallo, was among the many first to endorse the coup.

Doumbouya has not appealed to ethnic pursuits, as an alternative framing the overthrow as the desire of the individuals. Each Leno and Kondiano referred to as on ECOWAS to help Guinea within the military-led return to democratic legitimacy.

However for a lot of Guinea’s historical past, Christians have stayed on the sidelines. The primary president, Sekou Toure, expelled overseas missionaries in 1967, hindering the church from growing mature theological reflection.

“These realities ended up convincing us {that a} good Christian couldn’t do politics,” mentioned Leno. “However at this time, there’s a new era of evangelical youth.”

These believers are usually much less hooked up to ethnicity and are strongly pro-democracy. The Nationwide Entrance for the Protection of the Structure, shaped in response to Conde’s referendum, is headed by a Fulbe and assisted by an influential Baptist.

The previous head of parliament was a Christian, although few have risen to the extent of ministers, governors, and prefects. AEMEG, nevertheless, serves as an efficient liaison between state and church, mentioned Kondiano.

Along with internet hosting a yearly “March for Jesus,” the evangelical affiliation conducts a yearly prayer assembly within the legislature, to which it invitations main politicians. Most lately, Diallo was in attendance.

Some Christians imagine this shift is a mistake.

“Younger individuals ought to be very cautious with politics,” mentioned Ouamouno. “As soon as our brothers make associates with politicians, we lose them.”

Somewhat than serving the church by means of their positions of affect, he mentioned, they develop into corrupt mouthpieces for his or her get together. It could polarize a congregation, he mentioned, which as an alternative ought to be united round Jesus.

Whereas divided in opinion about politics, Guinean sources agreed: Denominational division should be overcome. Kondiano has sought to enrich the work of AEMEG by cofounding the “Christians of Guinea” Fb web page. He’s at present looking for to develop cooperation with the nation’s Catholic church buildings.

The Holy Ghost Fathers first evangelized the realm in 1877, and the CMA began work in 1919. Right now, the evangelical denomination counts 437 church buildings and an extra 154 unofficial fellowships. Christians have affect past their share of inhabitants by means of a community of faculties and hospitals.

Although the times of Toure’s persecution have lengthy handed, Guinean Christians nonetheless view their non secular freedom as incomplete. Sources instructed CT they need authorities funding for theological schooling, as is offered for Muslim imams. There ought to be extra Christians within the administration—particularly the deputy place within the Ministry for Non secular Affairs. And so they mentioned discrimination exists towards Christians in housing, making it troublesome to lease within the bigger cities.

Some Muslim converts to Christianity concern household response however should not harassed by the state. On each authorities restrictions and social hostilities involving faith, the Pew Analysis Middle ranks Guinea reasonably low—scoring between 2 and three on a 10-point scale.

Church buildings have been planted in all areas of Guinea, although most in attendance are Christians initially from the forested area. However the IBRA radio station operates freely in a Muslim area, and the structure ensures the precise of people to decide on and profess their faith.

“The evangelical church is sort of a wounded panther, regaining its energy,” mentioned Ouamouno. “Our major problem is to return to the unity of the physique of Christ.”

And although the AG pastor distrusts politics, he longs for nationwide leaders like David, Ezra, and Daniel. Till Christians can play that position—and a few are already making an attempt—these hopes should be directed to the junta.

“Pray for the brand new authorities in our transition,” Ouamouno mentioned, “that the Everlasting One will illumine their path, towards peace in Guinea.”

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