Guinea coup: Military arrests president, dissolves government
Guinean special forces seized power in a coup, arrested the president, and promised to change the political makeup of the West African country.
The new military leaders announced a nationwide curfew “until further notice”, saying it would convene President Alpha Conde’s cabinet ministers and other senior politicians at 11am (11:00 GMT) on Monday.
“Any refusal to attend will be considered a rebellion,” the commandos said in a statement.
Uneasy calm returned to the streets of Guinea’s capital Conakry on Monday, as its citizens awaited the announcement of a new government.
Light traffic resumed and some shops reopened around the main administrative district of Kaloum in the capital Conakry, which witnessed heavy gunfire throughout Sunday as the special forces battled soldiers loyal to Conde.
In a video, the putschists showed Conde sitting on a sofa surrounded by troops. The 83-year-old leader refused to answer a question from one soldier about whether he had been mistreated.
The nation of 13 million people – one of the world’s poorest countries despite boasting significant mineral resources – has long been beset by political instability.
One Western diplomat in Conakry, who declined to be named, suggested the unrest may have started after the dismissal of a senior commander in the special forces – provoking some of its highly trained members to rebel.
The head of Guinea’s military special forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya – a former French foreign legionnaire officer – later appeared on public television, draped in the national flag, saying government “mismanagement” prompted the coup.
“We are no longer going to entrust politics to one man, we are going to entrust politics to the people,” Doumbouya said. “Guinea is beautiful. We don’t need to rape Guinea any more, we just need to make love to her.”
Youssouf Bah, a journalist based in Conakry, said members of the special forces told him: “This is not a military coup. We are here to free the people.”
Bah noted there were celebrations among the people in many neighbourhoods in the capital, and a noticeable absence of military patrols on the streets.
“There came a time when Guineans were asking for change, most Guineans asked for change. So this is exactly what has happened,” Bah told Al Jazeera.
In neighboring Senegal, which has a large diaspora of Guineans who opposed Conde, news of his political demise was met with relief.
“President Alpha Conde deserves to be deposed. He stubbornly tried to run for a third term when he had no right to do so,” said Malick Diallo, a young Guinean shopkeeper in the suburbs of Dakar.
“We know that a coup d’etat is not good,” said Mamadou Saliou Diallo, another Guinean living in Senegal. “A president must be elected by democratic vote. But we have no choice. We have a president who is too old, who no longer makes Guineans dream, and who does not want to leave power.”