Guinean President Alpha Conde was overthrown and the country’s constitution dissolved in an apparent military coup early Sunday morning. A group of special forces soldiers appeared on state television to reveal that President Conde had been detained and an interim government was to be formed under former French legionnaire Mamady Doumbouya.
The group explained that in response to corruption and human rights violations by the President, Guinea’s constitution and government was to be dissolved in favor of a new one that would be “written together.” Doumbouya instructed Guinea’s military to close air and sea borders and to “unite to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the people of Guinea.” This coup is the third in five months for Guinea, which despite seeing modest economic growth thanks to an abundance in natural resources, continues to suffer from major poverty due to government corruption and mismanagement. Doumbouya ended the address by promising that this time would be different.
President Conde, who was shown on video being held in a room by soldiers, has drawn criticism for corruption, alleged human rights violations, and raising taxes to replenish state finances. He had succeeded in winning a third term in October after amending the constitution amidst violent protests, which had significantly exacerbated tensions with political opposition both in and outside of government.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres took to Twitter to condemn “any takeover of the government by force” and call for the release of President Conde, whose whereabouts are currently unknown. Although reports have circulated that the President of the Economic Community of West African States had threatened sanctions if the Guinean government was not restored, it had since released a statement denying any such report.
The people of Guinea have responded divisively to the coup, with some welcoming a new regime. Military vehicles now patrol the streets, and access to the Presidential Palace and other government buildings has been sealed off. The extent and severity of Sunday’s insurgency remains unclear. At the time of this report, government websites are offline.