Leaders of a military coup in Guinea promised to set up a transitional government of national unity after ousting President Alpha Conde and dissolving his cabinet. The District of Kaloum in Conakry witnessed heavy gunfire through Sunday as special forces battled with soldiers loyal to Conde, according to Reuters.
In a gathering on Monday, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya told Conde’s top government officials to turn in their official vehicles and passports, according to Al Jazeera News. A day after the coup, Doumbouya said there would be no “witch-hunt” but restricted travel for officials. An army unit appears to have Conde in detention and other politicians were detained or barred from traveling.
This is the third coup since April in West and Central Africa. It raises concerns about slides back into military rule in a region that has made progress towards democracy since the 1990s.
“A consultation will be carried out to define the major framework of the transition, then a government of national unity will be put in place to lead the transition,” Doumbouya said in a meeting. No details surrounding the transition or a date for a return to democratic elections were given.
The military coup has stirred many mixed feelings among those in its region and the entire world. Some welcomed the coup with the dissatisfaction of Conde as a leader. Reuters reports that Conde said Guinea would operate democratically, but he instead violently silenced opponents, failed to reduce poverty, and tried to run for a third term in power, which many stated was illegal.
Many feared for the mining sector because Guinea has the world’s largest bauxite reserves. It contains an ore used to produce aluminum. Prices of the metal shot up to a 10 year high Monday, but there was no sign of supply disruptions. Doumbouya said sea borders would stay open so that mining products could be exported. BBC News says that Guinea’s mineral wealth makes it one of Africa’s richest countries, but its people are among the poorest in West Africa.
Two diplomatic sources said Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Presidential Affairs Minister Mohamed Diané, and National Assembly Amadou Damaro Camar had been arrested.
Guinea experimented with different forms of government like socialism, a two-year rule by the junta, and a decade of the civilian rule according to BBC News. These various forms of government made a toll on their development as a nation.
The international community has condemned the takeover and has placed pressure on the new military leaders to offer a plan beyond toppling the government. Amnesty International questioned the legal basis for Conde’s detention and to free dissenters that he detained surrounding last year’s election.
The United Nations have also denounced the takeover and the African Union and West Africa’s regional bloc have threatened sanctions according to Al Jazeera. The U.S. Department of State said that the violence amongst other things will harm Guinea’s chances of stability and prosperity. The New York Times released an article stating that while the American government denounced the military takeover, U.S. Forces were training the Guinean Soldiers who staged the coup. The United States trains troops in many African nations with counter-terrorism as the main objective, but also with the idea of supporting civilian-led governments.
Spokespeople for the U.S. have vehemently denied involvement in the coup and the U.S. Department of State also said that the coup could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country.