The fate of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé is unclear after an unverified video showed him surrounded by soldiers, who said they had seized power.
The military released a video of the president, who was re-elected in 2020 for a highly contested term, and announced that they were “dissolving the constitution and institutions”. They later announced a curfew “until further notice”. France condemned the attempted putsch, calling for the release of President Condé.
Guinean special forces officers claimed on Sunday 5 September to have captured President Alpha Conde, taken control of Conakry and “dissolved” the institutions, in a coup that could signal the retirement of a veteran of African politics, but condemned by the international community.
However, the defence ministry said the attempted takeover had been thwarted by the presidential guard.
This follows hours of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the African Union have condemned the apparent coup and demanded the immediate release of President Condé.
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.
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.
— Magombe (@ncambirwa) September 5, 2021
Numerous reports say the coup was led by an elite unit headed by a former French legionnaire, Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya.
Sitting barefoot on a sofa wearing jeans and a printed shirt, he does not have any visible injuries. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Those behind the coup said that all land and air borders had been closed for a week.
However, according to the defence ministry, forces loyal to the president have “contained the threat and repelled the group of assailants”.