Guinea junta leader tells UN to 'stop lecturing' Africa

Guinea's President Mamady Doumbouya addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Doumbouya came to power in a coup in September 2021 after 11 years of civilian rule.

The head of Guinea's junta Colonel Mamady Doumbouya defended the use of military intervention in politics during a UN address Thursday, following a recent series of coups on the African continent.

"Africa is suffering from a model of governance that has been imposed on us. A model that is certainly good and effective for the West, which designed it over the course of its history, but which is having trouble adapting to our reality," he told the UN General Assembly, speaking in French.

"Alas, I would like to say that the graft has not taken," he added.

Doumbouya came to power in a coup in September 2021 after 11 years of civilian rule.

From his experience, he has "better appreciated the extent to which the model has above all contributed to maintaining a system of exploitation and pillaging of our resources by others, and very active corruption of our elites," Doumbouya said.

Guinea is among several countries to have seen coups since 2020, along with Mali, Burkina Faso and this year, Niger and Gabon.

Doumbouya is the only coup leader from the region to be speaking at the UN this year.

Abandoning his typical uniform and beret for more traditional African attire -- a white boubou and hat -- he defended himself saying he wasn't just another soldier "who wants to twist the neck of democracy" and "impose his dictatorship".

"A putschist isn't just someone who takes up arms, who overthrows a regime," he said.

"The real putschists, the most numerous, who are not the subject of any condemnation, it is also those who scheme, who use deception, who cheat in order to manipulate the texts of the Constitution in order to maintain themselves in power externally," he said referring to situations in various countries.

He said he had taken action in Guinea "to save our country from complete chaos."

At the time of the coup, Guinea had experienced months of protests against then-president Alpha Conde's changes to the constitution and re-election for a third term.

He called on Africa's young and old to break with the old-world order, while defending non-alignment.

"Paternalised Africa, the old Africa, is over," he said.

"It's time to take our rights back, to give us our place. But above all, its time to stop lecturing us, to stop looking down on us, and to stop treating us like children," he said.

CAR leader blames West's 'plundering' of Africa for migrant crisis

The head of the Central African Republic on Thursday accused the West of triggering a migration crisis by pillaging Africa's natural resources through slavery and colonization.

Taking the podium at the United Nations General Assembly, Faustin-Archange Touadera addressed the migrant crisis on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of African migrants arrived last week, overwhelming the local community and causing a major headache for the European Union.

"These young people who symbolize the present and the future of our continent are desperately seeking to join the countries of the European continent in search of an El Dorado," Touadera said.

"This escalation of the migrant crisis is one of the appalling consequences of the plundering of natural resources of countries made poor by slavery, colonization and Western imperialism, terrorism and internal armed conflicts," he added.

Western governments and aid organizations have poured billions of dollars into African countries suffering from hunger, armed conflict and other crises over the years, but critics say delivery of the aid is often hampered by corruption from local governments and militants.

Touadera's statement contrasted sharply with comments Wednesday by Italy's right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who blamed the crisis on migrant smugglers and charged that Africa was in fact a rich continent.

Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island, located less than 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Tunisian coast, has long been a landing point for migrant boats from North Africa.

But it was inundated last week, when some 8,500 people -- more than the entire local population -- arrived in 199 boats over the course of three days, according to the UN migration agency.

EU officials scrambled to respond and the president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, was scheduled to visit the island on Sunday.

Touadera lauded the "solidarity and the incredible efforts" by the countries hosting the migrants, but said that Africa must be given a greater say in solving the migrant crisis.

"The UN must go beyond our common commitment to revive global solidarity by involving African countries in the search for global solutions to the migration crises and the existential issues facing young people on the African continent," he said.

In her UN speech, Italy's Meloni, who heads the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party and took office in part on pledges to crack down on migration, called human traffickers a "mafia who earn as much as drug smugglers."

"I believe it is the duty of this organization to reject any hypocritical approach to this issue and wage a global war without mercy against the traffickers of human beings," she said.

Meloni said Italy would work to address root causes and help African nations "grow and prosper."

"Africa is not a poor continent. To the contrary, it is rich with strategic resources," Meloni said.

Fissures quickly emerged in Brussels on how to respond to the Lampedusa crisis.

While Meloni called on Italy's EU partners to share more of the responsibility, France said it would not welcome the migrants from the island but is willing to help return them to friendly countries, such as Ivory Coast and Senegal.

EU border patrol agency Frontex on Wednesday said it would boost support to Italy following the surge of arrivals on Lampedusa.

Addressing the General Assembly later in the day, Kenyan President William Ruto said investments in technology, infrastructure, green initiatives and agriculture in Africa will "enable our young people to find the livelihoods they desire at home, and reverse the tide of migration in the opposite direction."

Kenya urges quick UN green light of Haiti mission

Kenyan President William Ruto on Thursday urged the United Nations to quickly authorize an international security mission to Haiti, which it has agreed to lead, as the impoverished Caribbean nation suffers from devastating gang violence.

"Haiti is the ultimate test of international solidarity and collective action," Ruto told the UN General Assembly. "The international community has failed this test so far, and thus let down a people very, very badly."

Haitian authorities and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have for months been calling for a security mission to the island nation, but many countries have been hesitant to step in, partly out of fear of finding themselves in a bloody quagmire.

Kenya volunteered in July to lead a multinational police intervention to train and assist the Haitian police, but the mission would need a green light from the UN Security Council.

Ruto urged the UN to quickly work out a framework to allow for the mission to begin.

"Kenya is ready to play its part in full, and jointly, with a coalition of other nations of goodwill, as a great friend and true sibling of Haiti," Ruto said.

He added: "Haiti deserves better from the world."

Gangs control roughly 80 percent of the Haitian capital, and violent crimes including kidnappings for ransom, carjackings, rape and armed theft are common.

More than 2,400 people have been killed in Haiti since the start of 2023, the UN said last month.

Elections have not been held in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, since 2016, and it has been hit by a never-ending series of economic, health and other crises.

Ruto said the mission should be part of a broader strategy that would include humanitarian aid and reforms "with the aim of enabling free and fair elections within a reasonable time frame."

A UN peacekeeping mission was in operation in Haiti from 2004 to 2017 but fell out of favor after a cholera outbreak traced to infected UN personnel claimed thousands of lives.