On 05 September 2021, mutinous soldiers in Guinea detained President Alpha Conde, declaring on state television that the government had been dissolved in an apparent coup by the National Committee for Rally and Development. They also announced a nationwide curfew "until further notice." Videos circulating on social media appeared to show the president having been detained by the army in the apparent coup.
Troops were deployed to the streets in response to the incident, with the military blocking access from the mainland to Kaloum. Guinean President Conde was reportedly unharmed by the gunfire, but his exact whereabouts were unclear. Guinea's defense ministry claimed in a statement that "the Presidential Guard, supported by the defense and security forces, contained the threat and pushed back the group of insurgents.... Security and sweeping operations are continuing to restore order and peace". But the reality of the militants' success set in as the day wore on.
The unrest may have started after the dismissal of a senior commander in the Groupement des Forces Speciales (GPS) – provoking some of its highly trained members to rebel. The coup came a week after the parliament voted an increase in budget for the presidency, but a “substantial decrease” for civil servants and members of the security services.
The elite army unit's chief, Mamady Doumbouya, said "poverty and endemic corruption" had driven his soldiers to remove Conde from office. We have dissolved government and institutions," Doumbouya — a former French foreign legionnaire — announced on television, draped in Guinea's national flag and surrounded by eight other armed soldiers. Quoting former Ghana president Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice, Doumbouya said: “If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom.”
"We are going to rewrite a constitution together," he said, adding that his forces have also closed Guinea's land and air borders, and that a transitional government will soon be formed. "The personalization of political life is over. We will no longer entrust politics to one man. We will entrust it to the people," Doumboya said. "Guinea is beautiful. We don't need to rape Guinea anymore, we just need to make love to her," Doumbouya added.
The African Union (AU) bloc condemned the military takeover and demanded the immediate liberation of Condé. A statement by AU chairman and Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and AU Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat called on the body's Peace and Security Council to meet urgently to examine the situation and take appropriate measures.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded a return to constitutional order in Guinea and threatened to impose sanctions. A statement by current ECOWAS chairman, Ghana's President Nana Akuffo-Addo, condemned what it called "an attempted coup", and demanded the immediate and unconditional liberation of Conde, who was detained by the soldiers.
China opposed coup attempts to seize power in Guinea and called for the immediate release of the country's president Alpha Conde. "We are closely monitoring the situation in Guinea. We noted relevant statements by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)," spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference 06 September 2021. "We hope relevant parties can exercise calm and restraint, bear in mind the fundamental interests of the nation and people, resolve the relevant issue through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in Guinea," Wang said.
As Guinea is abundant in iron and aluminum ore, some observers believed that Chinese projects in the African country are aimed at reducing its reliance on the ore imported from Australia. Observers also worry that the situation in the country will impact China's cooperation with the previous government. However, Chinese experts noted that there is no need to be too worried.
The political change in Guinea has attracted worldwide attention, as the country plays a vital role in providing industrial feed material to China, the world's factory. Roughly 50 percent of all China's imported bauxite is shipped out of the country. Bauxite is the raw material for aluminum, the world's most needed nonferrous metal used in a long list of modern products from iPhones and airplanes to cars and furniture.
The political unrest immediately resulted in market jitters. Aluminum prices soared with the most traded contract for October delivery rising to its highest level since July 2008 during intraday trading on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
Some information on Twitter appeared to show that Mamady Doumbouya, the military leader who launched the coup, has connections with the US, and speculated that the US is behind this coup despite Washington condemning it. Zeng Aiping, research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that Doumbouya's US and French training background alone does not prove that he is pro-American, nor does it say anything about his future policy inclination. However, Zeng warned all relevant parties to be careful of potential foreign intervention that could worsen the situation.
There was no question that Doumbouya was in charge and he was the de facto head. So sanctions or not sanctions they will have to talk to him and more importantly they will have to take the measures of the country and it is clear that it is a popular uprising, at least as of the moment.
Originally from the Kankan region, Mamady Doumbouya is a former legionnaire of the French army, who was recalled to Guinea in 2018, to take the head of the Special forces group created by President Alpha Condé. Licensed officer of the School of War, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has according to some experts fifteen years of military experience, acquired in particular during operational missions (Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Central African Republic) and close protection. (Israel, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Guinea).
“Commander Mamady Doumbouya brilliantly completed the operational protection specialist training at the International Security Academy (Israel), the unit commanders training course at the Infantry Application School (EAI - Senegal ), the training of staff officer (EEML Libreville) and the Paris War School ”, declared Aladji Cellou Camara, the director of information and public relations of the army, during the Mamady Doumbouya took office at the head of the Special Forces Group in 2018.
But in 2016, Mamady Doumbouya asked his superiors if he could have ammunition to train his troops in marksmanship. He never received it, he said, because they feared he would use the rounds to launch a coup - well founded fear. A speech given in 2017 to a conference hosted by France’s armed forces may hold a clue to the character of the country’s unexpected new leader. “I asked for ammunition last year (2016) … but never received it,” Doumbouya said in the speech, which was published alongside others on the website of EMSOME, a section of France’s armed forced that specialises in overseas missions. “On the other hand, the French who come to provide training for us will immediately receive everything they need.” He said “Our rulers prefer to trust them rather than us, and consider them to be real advisers, functions we will never achieve.... Whites hold a power that is unattainable to us”.
According to information relayed by the Guinean media, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya had been showing for several months his desire to empower the GPS in relation to the Ministry of Defense. A situation which had aroused mistrust of the power of Conakry. In May 2021, rumors of his possible arrest had even circulated in the Guinean capital.
On 05 Septemer 2021, Doumbouya's special forces arrested President Alpha Conde, a former champion of democracy facing mounting anger for sidestepping constitutional limits on presidential tenure. Within hours, the military declared they were scrapping the contested constitution, imposed a curfew, dissolved the government and replaced top governors and other senior administrators with the military.
The colonel behind the putsch in Guinea promised investors on 06 Septemer 2021 that business deals would not be affected by the country's latest coup and vowed to form a "government of national union" to oversee a political transition. In a speech the day after his men arrested the 83-year-old president, opening a new chapter in Guinea's long history of turmoil, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya also declared there would be no "witch hunt" against members of the former government. Doumbouya, with an eye to the mining industry that is the backbone of the economy, said "activities in the country are continuing as normal." Guinea will "uphold all its undertakings (and) mining agreements," he promised, stressing "its commitment to give favourable treatment to foreign investment in the country."
He also said "a consultation" would be launched that would "set down the broad parameters" of political transition. "A government of national union will be established to steer the transition," he said, but gave no details about how long the consultation or the handover would last.
The political change in Guinea has attracted worldwide attention, as the country plays a vital role in providing industrial feed material to China, the world's factory. Roughly 50 percent of all China's imported bauxite is shipped out of the country. Bauxite is the raw material for aluminum, the world's most needed nonferrous metal used in a long list of modern products from iPhones and airplanes to cars and furniture. The political unrest resulted in market jitters. Aluminum prices soared on 06 September 2021 with the most traded contract for October delivery rising to its highest level since July 2008 during intraday trading on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
Besides aluminum, the coup has also put iron ore under the spotlight. Guinea is home to the Simandou project, the world's largest undeveloped iron ore deposit. The project has accumulated reserves of more than 10 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, and Chinese companies have invested heavily in the mining project.
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