Wednesday, August 10

Guinean President Militarily Detained, Say Army Coup Leaders | Guinea


Guinea’s President Alpha Condé is in military custody, according to an elite army unit that has led a coup condemned by the international community but welcomed by many in Guinea.

The country’s coup leader and head of the country’s special forces, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, announced on Sunday on state broadcasts that the country’s constitution had been suspended, the government dissolved, and borders closed, with a 24-hour curfew imposed.

All political prisoners would be released and an 18-month renewable transition would begin, under a new National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, said Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire. The events have upset the 83-year-old president’s 11-year regime and sparked political upheaval in the mineral-rich but impoverished West African country.

Guinean military unit organizes coup, claims to have detained president - video
Guinean military unit organizes coup, claims to have detained president – video

“If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to set the people free,” he said.

The president has not been seen since the riots began Sunday morning, but images and images circulating on social media showed soldiers surrounding him as he reclined on a sofa in bare feet, jeans and a shirt and a partially open vest. “The president is with us,” Doumbouya said, while the arrests of other senior government officials were also reported.

The ministers and institutional heads were called to a meeting on Monday, and Doumbouya warned that the lack of attendance would be considered an act of rebellion.

On Monday, the new military leaders announced that the former ministers would not be targeted for witch hunts, but instead had to surrender all government vehicles and were prohibited from leaving the country without authorization. Regional authorities were being taken over by military officers from across the country.

Condé, a once loved opposition activist, came to power in 2010 with popular support, drawing a line under a history of brutal military rule. Yet despite some economic and development gains, the country remains impoverished and rights abuses have increased in recent years, with dissidents imprisoned and abused.

Routine incarceration and abuse of opposition figures and critics deepened resentment in the coastal country of 13 million people. Dozens of people were killed during protests against Condé’s controversial third-term victory last year and changes to the constitution.

On Sunday, videos posted on social media showed civilians saluting soldiers in the capital, as news of the coup echoed across the country. Crowds danced in jubilation, waving the country’s flag in the streets.

However, after the army’s statements, the United States, the UN and the regional body Ecowas quickly condemned the coup, expressing fears of insecurity and further instability.

A statement on the “military seizure of power in Guinea” by the US State Department read: “Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability and prosperity. These actions could limit the ability of the United States and other international partners of Guinea to support the country.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who presides over Ecowas, said this Sunday that the body “condemns this attempted coup in the strongest terms.”

On Monday, Russia, a strong ally of Guinea, also said: “We demand the release of Mr. Condé and the guarantee of his immunity.”

Analysts expressed concern that the coup has created a power vacuum, potentially disrupting the country’s lucrative mining sector, which has seen protests in recent months, which authorities cracked down.

Eric Humphery-Smith, Africa analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said: “For the country’s booming mining sector, things couldn’t come at a worse time. The miners now have little choice but to sit still and wait for more clarity from the transitional authorities. “

The new military rulers said that all existing mining commitments would be honored.

However, in Guinea, many prominent figures in civil society welcomed the role of the army. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, a prominent civil society group that led mass protests in response to Condé’s third-term candidacy, urged citizens to hold a rally to welcome the release of the prisoners. politicians.

“We are awaiting the final release of the leaders of civil society. People in Guinea have fully understood this situation and are accepting it, ”said Ibrahima Kalil Gueye, spokesperson for the group. “The declarations of the international community can still go on, but on the ground, that is what determines everything. I believe that the situation is under the control of the military and accepted by the population ”.

The army had promised to hold meetings with civil society groups to consult on the terms of the transition, he said, which the army had declared would last at least 18 months.

Fabien Offner, an Amnesty International researcher in Guinea, said: “There is a big gap between the statement of the international community, which very strongly condemned this coup, and the sentiment among the people [in Guinea]. When Condé ran for a third term, a lot of people say, ‘What did you say then?’ People feel that Condé’s allies didn’t say enough about the abuses. “

The events in Guinea are the latest political upheaval in West Africa, where military junta have seized power in Mali, in the second coup in a year, and Chad, following the death of Idriss Déby. The unrest has deepened fears that states already vulnerable to increased jihadist violence in the Sahel could weaken.


www.theguardian.com

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