A Guinean colonel was lectured by British military and political personnel before launching a coup against the country’s democratically elected leader
A Guinean colonel took a British military leadership course just weeks before leading a coup to install himself as president last year.
Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has been condemned by the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), EU and UK for overthrowing the country’s first democratically elected president, Alpha Condé, in September. His military junta remains in power.
But just seven weeks earlier, the West African nation’s special forces commander had taken part in a ‘senior strategic leadership programme’ run by the UK’s Defense Academy, part of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). .
His presence was revealed by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). A subsequent request for a full list of the 120 participants from 40 countries has since been refused by the MoD on personal data protection grounds.
Speakers on the program included Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, Chairman of the House of Commons Defense Select Committee Tobias Ellwood and Deputy Speaker John Spellar.
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Senior military personnel also made presentations, with Commander of Strategic Command General Sir Patrick Sanders, Deputy Vice Marshal of Air Defense Chief Alastair Smith, as well as Major Generals Andrew Roe and Darrell Amison, all addressing the conference.
Topics ranged from “Achieving Strategic Intent,” presented by Heappey, to “Politics and Democratic Oversight” by Ellwood, as well as “Strategy – the Practitioner’s View” by Sanders.
The two-day event (held July 13-14, 2021) is normally held at Shrivenham for senior officers and officials from 30 countries. Last year, it was held virtually and ended with an interview with General David Petraeus, former commander of the multinational forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and ex-director of the CIA. In Afghanistan, Petraeus is known to have overseen an increase in deadly night raids by special forces that have left hundreds of civilians dead, according to the UN.
Colonel Doumbouya was appointed commander of Guinea’s new “Special Forces Group” by President Condé in 2018. He was one of 25 Guinean officials whom the EU threatened to punish for alleged human rights violations in the country.
Embarrassingly for the United States, Doumbouya was in a military camp run by US special forces when he rounded up his allies and left in the middle of the night in 50 trucks to seize power in the capital Conakry. On the morning of September 5 last year, his forces entered the presidential palace, apparently meeting little resistance.
Condé was arrested and expelled from the palace and his current whereabouts are unknown. Later that day, in a nationally televised speech, Doumbouya announced the dissolution of the constitution, government and parliament and the closing of national borders.
He has since promised new national elections and not to stand for election himself, but in March the six-month deadline demanded by ECOWAS for a return to civilian rule was missed. He is now Africa’s second-youngest leader, behind 38-year-old Malian Assimi Goïta, who also staged a military coup and is a personal friend of Doumbouya.
Trained by French Legionnaires, the 42-year-old served in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Central African Republic and provided close protection in Israel, Cyprus and the UK.
His wife, Lauriane, is a serving member of the French National Gendarmerie, while also serving as First Lady of Guinea.
President Doumbouya’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
A MoD spokesperson said: “Members of the armed forces from all over the world attend our world renowned Defense Academy. Guinean staff have taken leadership and other professional courses for many years, focusing on topics such as good governance and international humanitarian law. These courses are offered to a wide range of nations and serve an important diplomatic function.
The Department of Defense declined to comment on the process of vetting course participants.
Iain Overton, Executive Director of AOAV, also leads the Byline Intelligence team
This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigation project formed by Signing time with Citizens. If you want to know more about the Intelligence Team and how to finance his work, click on the button below.
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