Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde is being held in military detention under the guard of an elite unit of the army who led a coup condemned by the international community but welcomed by many in Guinea.
The president has not been seen since the unrest began on Sunday morning, but pictures and footage circulating on social media showed soldiers surrounding him as he leaned back on a sofa in bare feet, jeans and a partially open shirt and vest.
The coup leader also head of the country’s special forces, Col Mamadi Doumbouya, announced in state broadcast on Sunday that the country’s constitution had been suspended, the government dissolved and the borders closed, with a 24-hour curfew imposed.
On Sunday, videos posted on social media showed civilians hailing soldiers in the capital Conakry, as news of the coup reverberated in the country. Crowds danced in jubilation, waving the country’s flag in the streets.
“We have him. The president is with us” the coup leader Col Mamadi said.
The events capped the 11-year regime of the 83-year-old president Alpha Conde who had won a controversial third term as president of the mineral-rich but impoverished West African nation.
However, 41 year-old Doumbouya did not say what the transition would entail or give a date for a return to democratic elections. Recent reports indicate that coup leaders are moving to form new government.
After the army statements, the US, UN and the regional body Ecowas swiftly condemned the coup, expressing fears of insecurity and further instability.
A statement by the US state on the military seizure of power in Guinea said; “Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity. These actions could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country.”
All political prisoners would be freed and a renewable 18-month transition would commence, under a new National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, Doumbouya, a former french legionnaire, said.
Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, who chairs Ecowas, said on Sunday the body “condemns with the greatest firmness this coup attempt”.
On Monday, Russia, a strong ally of Guinea, also said: “We demand the release of Mr Condé and a guarantee of his immunity.”
The African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) both called for Conde’s release, and condemned the coup as outdated non-democratic means of accessing power.
“I am personally following the situation in Guinea very closely. I strongly condemn any takeover of the government by force of the gun and call for immediate release of president Alpha Conde” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.