Guinea’s leader Alpha Conde used to tell journalists that he was the only one who could lead the country. He would also say the military would not overthrow him.
He was proved wrong.
Regional leaders immediately condemned the power grab, urging the coup leaders to restore constitutional order and release Conde.
In Conakry, the new military rulers were quick to try and reassure political and economic actors of their good intentions.
A government of national unity would be set up to lead the transition to civilian rule, Mamady Doumbouya—the military officer who led the 2021 Guinean coup d’état, told members of the overthrown government on Monday.
The new leadership would honour mining contracts, urging companies to continue operations, he said. Land and sea borders that were shut during the takeover reopened in fewer than 24 hours.
This, however, did not convince the Economic Community of the West African States regional bloc that went on to suspend Guinea from all its decision-making bodies. Two days later, the African Union followed suit.
In 2010, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected leader, his victory seen as putting an end to decades of authoritarian rule by the country’s two first presidents, Sekou Toure and Lansana Conte, who were in office for 26 and 24 years, respectively.
Conde was re-elected for a second term in 2015 but he became increasingly disliked when he pushed through a constitutional referendum, backed by Russia, that Conde said allowed him to seek a controversial third term in October 2020 polls, which he won.
“Conde was very unpopular, even though people still voted for him. With the third mandate, Conde went too far,” he said by phone.
In his address to the nation yesterday, Doumbouya said Conde’s removal was necessary and went on to blame his leadership for Guinea’s poverty, corruption, misrule and a lack of development. Doumbouya said a reform of the country’s ruling system and institutions was desperately needed.
“If you see the condition of our roads, of our hospitals, you realise that it is time for us to wake up,” Doumbouya said. What he did not say was when a transitional government could be put in place.—Al Jazeera