After hours of intense gunfire near the capital’s presidential palace, President Alpha Conde was detained by mutinous soldiers from Guinea. Then, state television announced that the government had been disbanded in an apparent coup.
In an announcement made on state television by Army Col. Mamadi Doumbouya (army), the announcement declared the country’s borders closed and invalidated its constitution. He said to Guineans: “The duty a soldier is save the country.”
“We won’t entrust politics to any man.” Doumbouya was surrounded by about half a dozen soldiers, all wearing a Guinean flag.
However, it was not immediately clear how much Doumbouya received from the military, or whether any other soldiers who have been loyal to the president for more than a decade might try to take control.
Later, the junta announced plans to replace Guinea’s governors with regional commanders at a Monday event and warned that “any refusal to appear against the country’s new military leaders will be considered rebellion.”
The ECOWAS West African regional bloc quickly condemned the developments and threatened sanctions if Conde wasn’t released immediately. Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, tweeted that he strongly condemns “any takeover by force of gun”
The U.S. State Department warned against violence and urged authorities in Guinea to avoid “extra-constitutional” actions that “will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity.” Spokesman Ned Price added in a statement that the junta’s “actions could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country.”
Conde was unable to be located for several hours following the fighting in downtown Conakry on Sunday. However, a video capturing Conde in fatigue and disarray in military custody emerged.
Later, the junta released a statement stating that Conde was in touch with his doctors. They did not give any timeline, but they said that Conde was in contact with his doctors. We will issue a statement when it is time.”
Conde, who has been in power for over a decade, saw his popularity drop since last year when he sought a third term. He claimed that term limits didn’t apply to him and that they did not apply. Sunday’s dramatic developments highlighted how discontent had also been building within the military.
Doumbouya was the former commander of the army’s special force unit. He called for other soldiers to “put themselves on the side the people” by staying in their barracks. According to the army colonel, he was acting in national interest because of the lack of economic progress made by leaders since 1958 when the country became independent from France.
He said, “If you look at the state our roads and hospitals, you will see that it has been 72 years since we last woke up.” “We must wake up.”
However, observers believe that tensions between Guinea’s President and its army colonel result from a proposal to reduce military salaries.
Heavy gunfire erupted near the presidential palace on Sunday morning and continued for hours. This sparked fears in a country that has already seen numerous coups and attempted assassinations. Although the Defense Ministry initially stated that the attack was repelled by security forces at first, there was more uncertainty when Conde did not appear on state television or radio.
The events that followed were very similar to other military coups d’etats. The army colonel and his fellows seized control over the airwaves and declared their commitments to democratic values.
This was a devastating setback for Guinea where many had hoped that the country would turn the page on its military power grabs.
Conde’s victory in 2010 was meant to mark a new beginning for a country that has been ravaged by years of corruption, authoritarian rule, and political turmoil. However, Conde’s opponents claim that Conde has failed to improve the lives and well-being of Guineans in the years that followed. Most of them live in poverty despite having access to bauxite, gold, and other mineral riches.
After his first election, gunmen invaded his home and attacked his bedroom with rockets. He narrowly survived the assassination attempt. One of his bodyguards was also killed when rocket-propelled grenades were launched into the compound.