Guinean army colonel has seized control of state television airwaves later on Sunday and announced that President Alpha Conde’s government had been dissolved hours after heavy gunfire erupted near the presidential palace. President Condé was re-elected for a controversial third term in office amid violent protests last year.
The West African country of Guinea is rich in natural resources but years of unrest and mismanagement mean it is one of the world’s poorest countries. It should be noted that in 2011, he survived an assassination attempt when mutinous soldiers fired at the palace.
However, the fate of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé still remains unclear after an unverified video showed him surrounded by soldiers, who said they had seized power few hours after the gun fires raged the presidential palace.
The unnamed army officials appeared on national TV claiming to have dissolved the government. the defence ministry has However said the attempted takeover had been thwarted by the presidential guard.
An unidentified soldier, draped in Guinea’s national flag and surrounded by eight other armed soldiers, said they planned to form a transitional government and would give further details later.
Relatedly, on ground reports say two convoys of armored vehicles and pick-up trucks heading towards Conakry Autonomous Port, also near the palace. The convoy was accompanied by a white vehicle that appeared to be an ambulance.
The TV address featured nine unnamed soldiers, several draped in the red, gold and green national flag, who said they had taken over because of rampant corruption, mismanagement and poverty. Calling themselves the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, they said the constitution had been dissolved and that there would be consultations to create a new, more inclusive one.
The only bridge connecting the mainland to the Kaloum peninsular, which houses most ministries and the presidential palace, was sealed off earlier today while many soldiers, some heavily armed, were posted around the palace.
There are however unconfirmed reports that three soldiers have been killed. Numerous reports say the coup was led by an elite unit headed by a former French legionnaire, Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya.
In one video, circulating on social media despite being unconfirmed, soldiers ask President Condé, 83, to confirm he is unharmed but he refuses to respond. Conde’s whereabouts were not immediately known, and Col. Mamadi Doumbouya made no mention of the 83-year-old president whose popularity has plummeted since he sought a third term last year.
Ever since he sought a third term in office last year, Conde has faced mounting criticisms saying the constitutional term limits did not apply in his case. He was ultimately reelected, but the move prompted violent street demonstrations, and the opposition said dozens were killed.
The veteran opposition leader was first elected in 2010 in the country’s first democratic transfer of power. Despite overseeing some economic progress, he has since been accused of presiding over numerous human rights abuses and harassment of his critics.
When Conde came to power in 2010 in the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France in 1958. Many saw his presidency as a fresh start for the mineral-rich country, which has been mired by decades of corrupt and authoritarian rule.
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