September 7, 2021
By Saliou Samb
CONAKRY (Reuters) – The soldiers who seized power in Guinea over the weekend have consolidated their takeover with the installation of army officers at the top of Guinea’s eight regions and various administrative districts.
West African countries have threatened sanctions following the overthrow of President Alpha Conde, who was serving a third term after altering the constitution to permit it, which his opponents said was illegal. Regional leaders will meet to discuss the situation on Wednesday – not Thursday, as suggested in a previous staff memo.
Coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former officer in the French Foreign Legion, has promised a transitional government of national unity and a “new era for governance and economic development”. But he has not yet explained exactly what this will entail, or given a timeframe.
Sunday’s uprising, in which Conde and other top politicians were detained or barred from travelling, is the third since April in West and Central Africa, raising concerns about a slide back to military rule in a region that had made strides towards multi-party democracy since the 1990s.
Conakry saw a second day of calm after the putsch, with some military checkpoints removed. Traffic was normal on Tuesday in the capital’s administrative centre, the Kaloum peninsula. Traffic jams were beginning to form.
State RTG television broadcast images of junta-appointed General Aboubacar Diakite taking over from civilian governor Sadou Keita in Kankan, the region that has been Conde’s electoral stronghold.
Keita called his replacement by a general a moment of “joy and remorse”, Guinean news website Inquisiteur.net reported.
In Labe region in the north, soldiers took down a photograph of Conde from the walls of Governor Elhadj Madifing Diane’s office as he handed over to a lieutenant-colonel, Media Guinea reported.
The coup has triggered concerns about supplies of bauxite, the main aluminium ore, from Guinea, the world’s second-largest producer.
The benchmark aluminium contract on the London Metal Exchange remained near a 10-year high hit on Monday.
However, mines have not reported any disruption. State-run Chinese aluminium producer Chalco’s bauxite project in Guinea said it was operating normally.
The Australian-listed bauxite and gold exploration firms Lindian Resources and Polymetals Resources also said on Tuesday that their activities were unaffected.
The Kremlin said it was closely following the political situation and that it hoped Russian business interests, which include three major bauxite mines and one alumina refinery, would not suffer.
During his decade in power, Conde steered Guinea through economic growth, but unemployment remained high.
Surveys by Afrobarometer suggest the majority of Guineans think the level of corruption has increased in recent years, while dissatisfaction with the economy and personal living conditions has also risen.
Frustration boiled over into deadly protests last year, when Conde chose to seek a third term.
(Additional reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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