Guinea’s leader Alpha Conde has told reporters he is the only one who can lead the country. He would also say that the army would not overthrow him.
On Sunday, he was proven wrong.
An Elite Special Forces Unit storm the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry, in which the 83-year-old president is being held. Hours later, coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya appeared on state broadcaster Radio Television Guineenne, draped in the Guinean flag, introducing himself to the surprised Guineans as the country’s new leader.
The putsch in Guinea has put the country in a state of uncertainty, causing the West African economic bloc to threaten sanctions and the price of aluminum to reach its highest level in more than a decade. Guinea is the world’s largest producer of bauxite, a mineral used in the manufacture of aluminum.
Regional leaders immediately condemned the coup and urged the coup leaders to restore constitutional order and release Conde.
In Conakry, the new military rulers were rapidly trying to secure political and economic role players their good intentions.
A national unity government will be set up to lead the transition to civilian rule, Doumbouya told members of the overthrown government on Monday.
The new leadership will honor mining contracts and encourage companies to continue, he said. Land and sea borders closed during the takeover were reopened in less than 24 hours.
However, this did not convince the Economic Block of the West African States (ECOWAS) that Guinea had been expelled from all its decision-making bodies. Two days later, the African Union follows its example.
Conde became the first democratically elected leader of Guinea in 2010, with his victory ending decades of authoritarian rule by the country’s two first presidents, Sekou Toure and Lansana Conte, who served 26 and 24 years respectively. .
Conde was re-elected for a second term in 2015. But he increasingly became disgusted when he pushed through a constitutional referendum, backed by Russia, which, according to Conde, allowed him to run for a controversial third term in the opinion polls in October 2020, which he won.
Sidy Yansane, a journalist and analyst at Conakry, said Conde had brought the downfall upon himself.
‘Conde was very unpopular, although people still voted for him. “With the third term, Conde has gone too far,” he said by telephone.
In his speech to the country on Sunday, Doumbouya said that the removal of Conde was necessary and that he blamed his leadership for the poverty, corruption, mismanagement and lack of development of Guinea. Doumbouya said a reform of the country’s rule and institutions is urgently needed.
“When you see the condition of our roads and our hospitals, you realize that it is time for us to wake up,” Doumbouya said. What he did not say was when a transitional government could be established.
“At the moment, people are just happy that Conde is gone,” Yansane said. ‘But soon they will have to see some actions of the junta; signs that things are about to change, including a timetable for a transition.
So far, Sunday’s coup has met with minimal resistance. The cheering crowd greeted the wells as they drove through Conakry earlier this week.
Sally Bilaly Sow, a 29-year-old blogger and activist, said the coup could be an opportunity to reform and restructure state institutions.
‘The most important thing now is not to rush. “To give an interim leadership enough time for reforms and to prepare for new elections,” Sow said by telephone from Conakry.
Cellou Dalein Diallo, the only challenger to Conde’s polls boycotted by the opposition in 2020, said he was open to participating, but that he would not set an end date for a transition and return to civilian rule. .
The coup in Guinea is the fourth military takeover in West Africa this year after two coups in neighboring Mali – the second as recently as May this year – and a dubious follow-up in Chad that raises concerns about a democratic decline in the region.
In Mali, the interim government led by the military is falling behind an 18-month general election schedule that should bring the country back to civilian rule.
In Chad, President Mahamat Deby, who succeeded his father Idriss Deby in April, does not appear to be in a hurry to hand over power to a civilian government.
An ECOWAS delegate who visited Conakry on Friday said his first meetings with the coup leaders were ‘positive’.
The delegation also met with Conde, said Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, president of the ECOWAS commission, referring to the sacked leader as the ‘former president’ indicating that the regional bloc was not recalling him.