(Conakry) Guineane special forces said Sunday they had captured head of state Alpha Condé, took control of Conakry and “disbanded” the institutions in a coup that could mark the resignation of an increasingly isolated veteran of African politics.
Posted on Sep 5, 2021 at 10:18 AM Updated at 2:30 PM
Mouctar BAH Agence France-Presse
No death was reported during this coup on Sunday, despite the intense crackling of automatic weapons that could be heard in the morning in the capital of this country familiar with brutal political confrontations. The apparent end of more than ten years of the Condé regime sparked cheers in various districts of the capital.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, however, condemned in a tweet “every seizure of power” in Guinea “by force of arms” and called for “the immediate release of 83-year-old President Alpha Condé”.
“We made our decision after taking the president who is with us at the moment […] to dissolve the enacted constitution, to dissolve the institutions, “whose government said in a video, the chief of special forces, Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, on behalf of a” National Committee for Rally and Development “in uniform and in arms.
He also announced the closure of land and air borders in this West African country that has plunged into a serious economic and political crisis for months.
Lt. Colonel Doumbouya, denouncing the “mismanagement” wrapped in a Guinean flag, then promised in a statement on national television that interrupted his broadcasts “to initiate a national consultation to open an inclusive and peaceful transition.”
The coup plotters also released a video of President Condé in their hands. They ask him if he has been mistreated and Alpha Condé, in jeans and a crumpled shirt on a sofa, refuses to answer them.
“We are holding on to the whole of Conakry and are working with all the defense and security forces to finally put an end to the evil in Guinea,” said Lieutenant Colonel Doumbouya, a until then very little known figure, on France 24 television.
“Many dead in vain”
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Presidential Guard pushed back the “insurgents” when they tried to take the presidential palace. But the authorities that had existed until then fell silent.
According to AFP correspondents, hundreds of Conakry residents took to the streets to cheer on special forces soldiers, particularly in suburbs known to be opposition.
“We are proud of the special forces, shame on the police, shame on the militia of the former President Alpha Condé, who died the torturers and murderers of our youth,” one protester exclaimed on condition of anonymity.
“I couldn’t imagine Alpha Condé leaving power in my lifetime, he wronged me so much,” said Madiaou Sow, a driver. “He killed my sister Mariama, my nephew Bissiriou, my cousin Alphadio at the demonstrations, and none of them benefited from the compassionate power,” he said.
He was referring to the bloody crackdown on opposition demonstrations and the mobilization against the adoption of a new constitution by referendum in 2020, which Mr Condé used as an argument for a third term.
“Together we will rewrite a constitution, this time for the whole of Guinea,” assured the putschist leader and regretted that there had been “many dead for free, many wounded, many tears”.
“We don’t have to rape Guinea anymore, we just have to sleep with her, very simple,” he concluded.
The main opposition leaders refused to speak at AFP’s request.
But the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of political movements and civil society that led the protest against Alpha Condé’s third term, took note of the dictator’s “arrest” and the military’s remarks on the constitution.
On the Kaloum peninsula, the nerve center of Conakry, where the presidency, institutions and offices are located, heavy shots from automatic weapons rang out early in the morning.
“I saw a column of military vehicles on board who shot excited soldiers in the air and chanted military slogans,” a resident of the Tombo district near the center of the capital told the AFP news agency.
The country, one of the poorest in the world despite considerable mineral and hydrological resources, has been in a deep political and economic crisis for months, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Condé, a former historical opponent, became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 after decades of authoritarian regimes.
Human rights defenders castigate his authoritarian tendencies and question the achievements from the start.
Mr Condé is proud to have promoted human rights and rehabilitated a country that he allegedly found in ruins.