Residents of the Guinean capital, Conakry woke up to gunfire and reports of a coup attempt at the presidential palace early sunday morning. Pictures and video footage will later confirm the arrest of Alpha conde, the country’s leader for nearly 11 years by Guinean special forces led by LT. Col. Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire.
Conde 83, was in his third term in office following a controversial referendum and election victory denounced by the opposition who faced a major clampdown during a post elections protest, where several people died. Earlier speaking on national Television on Sunday, Lt. Col Doumbouya confirmed Mr Conde has been arrested and taken away from the palace and the government dissolved. The army, which suspended the constitution says the president is unharmed and has seen a doctor. It also announced that regional governors will be replaced by army commanders.
Celebrations quickly took off in the capital’s opposition stronghold with many taking to the streets to support the army takeover, which comes barely 8 months after the country’s much disputed presidential polls. In a quick move towards a transition, the army has invited state ministers and top officials to a meeting at the Guinean parliament to discuss a way forward and the Junta is urging workers to return to work as early as Monday.
In swift condemnation of the military takeover, UN chief Antonio Gutteres denounced the coup and asked for the immediate release of the president. Regional bloc Ecowas and the African Union also condemned the coup, which is the latest in a string of military takeovers that have marred the west African country until Conde’s ascension to power as the first democratically elected president in ().
Despite rich minerals and vast natural resources many people remain extremely poor in Guinea, which has been ridden by bad governance and strongman leaders from independence to date.
The Gambia government also joined the international community in denouncing the coup in Guinea and called for the restoration of the constitutional order and need for the rule of law, reaffirming the African Union and ECOWAS positions and principles of the total rejection of all unconstitutional change of Government.