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Guinea: Coup leaders ban ministers from traveling

September 6, 2021

Junta officials have met to discuss the transfer of power. The capital Conakry is experiencing an uneasy clam, but uncertainty remains over the possibility of unrest.

People celebrate in the streets with members of Guinea's armed forces on Sunday
The whereabouts of President Alpha Conde are still unknown, though the military insists he is safeImage: Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images

Guinean government officials have been banned from leaving the country by coup leader Mamady Doumbouya one day after the ouster of President Alpha Conde. 

The Guinean capital of Conakry saw comparative calm on Monday morning, a day after soldiers dissolved the government in a swift coup.

"The people of Conakry woke up this morning with a new wind," said DW correspondent Bangaly Conde. "It is not yet possible to say exactly what will happen during the day. But there is a tense silence this morning [...] Mistrust is high."

DW's Fred Muvunyi said that despite reports of sporadic gunfire overnight, the military claimed on Monday morning that "generally the situation is under control." 

Light traffic resumed, and some shops reopened around the main administrative district of Kaloum in Conakry, which witnessed heavy gunfire throughout Sunday.

Fear over additional unrest

However, uncertainty remained over possible unrest throughout the rest of the week.

After putting the nation back under military rule for the first time since 2008, the junta said that governors would be replaced by regional commanders. They also implemented a nightly curfew, and ordered the country's constitution and National Assembly dissolved.

"The governors of the regions will be replaced by regional commanders, and the prefects and sub-prefects will be replaced by commanders of the largest localities," a CNRD spokesman said.

A mandatory meeting to not be deemed a 'rebel'

The military also summoned former ministers and officials to a meeting on Monday, to which not coming would be considered an act of "rebellion" against the junta.

"The meeting raises many questions, because many people are wondering: will all the leaders of the [ousted] regime show up for this meeting? And in what setting will these former ministers and presidents of institutions meet at the presidential palace? Have all arrangements been made for their safety?," Bangaly Conde reported.

Coup in Guinea: DW's Fred Muvunyi reports

The junta has also refused to offer a timeline for releasing President Alpha Conde. Officials said the 83-year-old deposed leader still had access to medical care and doctors. Conde's removal came after he sought and won a controversial third term in office last year, saying that term limits did not apply to him.

At the meeting, special forces commander Mamady Doumbouya, the leader of the coup, said that government officials are barred from travel until further notice and must hand over their official vehicles to the military.

He also reassured mining investors that the country would honor its business commitments. A committee set up by the junta assures "economic and financial partners that activities in the country are continuing as normal," said Doumbouya. "The committee assures partners that it will respect all its undertakings."

He added that the military would set up a unity government to oversee a transition period, and vowed that there would be no "witch hunt" against the former government. He did not say how long the consultation or handover would last. 

Widespread condemnation of coup

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the events fill officials "with great concern," and condemned the "attempt to seize power by force of arms."

"ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States] and the African Union have called on the coup leaders in no uncertain terms to release President Conde and other prisoners without conditions and to immediately restore constitutional order. We support the call of ECOWAS and the African Union and call on all parties to refrain from further violence," she said.

Meanwhile, Russia called for the immediate release of Conde. "Moscow opposes any attempt at unconstitutional change of leadership," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "We demand the release of Conde and a guarantee of his immunity. We consider it necessary to return the situation in Guinea to constitutional norms as soon as possible."

Moscow has maintained a long relationship with the country, which goes back to trade and economic cooperation during Soviet times and is currently focused on the metals business. 

The United States, United Nations and European Union have also condemned the coup, calling for a return to civilian rule. Guinea has had a long history of political instability since declaring independence in 1958. In 1984, General Lansana Conte seized the presidency with military support after the first post-independence leader died. He remained in power until his death in 2008, when the country's second coup soon followed.

lc/msh (AP, Reuters)