At around 8 a.m. this Sunday morning, heavy gunfire from automatic weapons rang out in central Conakry, around the presidential palace where 83-year old Alpha Conde, the president since 2010, was located. The news quickly went round that armed men from the Guinean elite army unit of the Special Forces stormed the presidential palace.
In the early afternoon, the leader of what turned out to be a coup, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, appeared on a video circulating on social networks. He claims to hold the head of state.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya
“After talking to the president who is with us, we have decided to dissolve the constitution and put an end to his government. In addition, we have decided the closure of land and air borders,” said the putschist.
In justifying this political turnaround, Lt. Col. Doumbuya mentioned, “The dysfunction of Republican institutions, the instrumentalization of Justice and the trampling of citizens’ rights.”
Earlier in the afternoon, several videos circulated on social networks showing Alpha Conde seated on his sofa, with a dark face, surrounded by elite Guinean soldiers.
A former legionary of the French army, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya is Commander of the Special Forces Group (GPS), the Guinean army’s highly trained and equipped elite unit. According to the magazine Jeune Afrique, he has tried, in recent months, to strengthen the independence of the GPS vis-a-vis the Ministry of Defense, arousing de facto mistrust of the executive. In May, rumors wrongly have it that Mamady Doumbouya was arrested in Conakry.
Conde’s forced third term sank him.
Conakry residents reached by phone, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP news agency that they saw many soldiers ordering residents to return to their homes and not to leave.
The Kaloum peninsula, a center of the Guinean capital where the presidential palace, government institutions, and business offices are located, was restricted by armed troops.
There is no reaction from the Conde government authorities as of now.
For months, Guinea Conakry, a country among the poorest in the world, despite considerable mineral and hydrological resources, has been in the grip of profound political and economic crises.
Alpha Conde was proclaimed president for a third term on November 7, despite the appeals of his main challenger, Cellou Dalein Diallo, and three other candidates who denounced “ballot stuffing” and all irregularities.
Conde’s candidacy for a third term, after a highly controversial constitutional reform, had sparked months of tension before and after the election that caused dozens of deaths in bloody political confrontations. Conde’s regime arrested dozens of opponents before, during, and after the elections.