China Daily Global Edition (USA)

Government overthrown in Guinea

UN, AU lead calls against seizure of power, demanding president’s release

- By CHINA DAILY Xinhua, agencies, Zhou Jin in Beijing and Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya, contribute­d to this story.

Civilians look on as members of Guinea’s National Police Force drive through the Kaloum area of the city of Conakry on Sunday following a military coup in the Western African nation. Internatio­nal organizati­ons, including the United Nations and the African Union, and some government­s condemned the military coup and called for the release of President Alpha Conde.

Internatio­nal organizati­ons including the United Nations and the African Union, as well as some government­s, condemned the military coup in Guinea on Sunday and called for the release of President Alpha Conde.

Earlier on Sunday, heavy gunfire was heard in the district of Kaloum in downtown Conakry, where the Presidenti­al Palace and several ministeria­l department­s are located.

Later that day, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya announced on national television that his forces had arrested the president and dissolved the government and national institutio­ns.

For their appearance on state television, members of the junta were wearing berets and dressed in fatigues, with no weapons apparent.

A video posted on social media showed Conde sitting on a sofa surrounded by troops. The 83-yearold leader refused to answer a question from one soldier about whether he had been mistreated. The time and place that the video was shot remain unclear.

The country’s borders were closed and its Constituti­on was declared invalid in the announceme­nt.

The nation of around 13 million people — one of the world’s poorest countries despite boasting significan­t mineral resources — has long been beset by political instabilit­y.

One Western diplomat in Conakry who declined to be named suggested the unrest may have started after the dismissal of a senior commander in the special forces — provoking some of its highly trained members to rebel.

The putsch follows a long period of political tension in Guinea, first spurred by Conde’s highly contested bid for a third presidenti­al term last year.

The most recent presidenti­al poll in Guinea, in October 2020, was marred by violence and accusation­s of electoral fraud.

Conde won a controvers­ial third term, but only after pushing through a new Constituti­on in March 2020 allowing him to sidestep the country’s two-term limit.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union, the AU and the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, all condemned the coup and demanded that the rebels release Conde.

Guterres posted on Twitter: “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 the immediate release of President Alpha Conde.”

The 55-member AU in a statement also called for the immediate release of Conde.

Response being mulled

Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is also the current AU chairman, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission chairman, further called for the AU Peace and Security Council to meet urgently to examine the situation in Guinea and take appropriat­e measures.

The ECOWAS, through its acting president, Ghana’s leader Nana Akufo-Addo, threatened sanctions if Guinea’s constituti­onal order was not restored.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday that Beijing opposes takeover of power by force and called for Conde’s immediate release, adding that China is closely following the situation and has noted the remarks by the AU and the ECOWAS.

China hopes relevant parties will remain calm and exercise restraint, keep in mind the fundamenta­l interests of Guinea and its people, address relevant issues through consultati­on and safeguard domestic peace and stability, he told a news conference.

France, Nigeria and the United States also condemned the coup.

 ?? CELLOU BINANI / AFP ??
CELLOU BINANI / AFP

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