Guinea junta plans unity government, reassures mining firms

On national television, coup leader Mamady Doumbouya says the borders are closed and the constitution dissolved. Image: screenshot via Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel.

A military junta that seized power in Guinea said it plans to establish a unity government pending a transition to civilian rule, urged mining companies to keep operating and reassured them that their existing agreements with the state will be honored.  

“A government of national unity will be set up to lead the transition,” coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya said in an address to members of the toppled administration on Monday. “The curfew in mining zones has been lifted to ensure continuity of production, and ports remain open for exports,” he said. Air links have also been restored.

Special forces led by Doumbouya seized power on Sunday after detaining President Alpha Conde, who’d held power since late 2010. The 83-year-old leader has so far resisted pressure to resign, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media.

Doumbouya will present himself as the leader of the transition, the people said. 

Special forces led by Doumbouya seized power on Sunday after detaining President Alpha Conde, who’d held power since late 2010

The coup leader has ordered members of a presidential security unit to confine themselves to a barracks outside the capital city of Conakry, and banned former officials from leaving the country. He also instructed the secretaries-general of Guinea’s ministries to take over the role of ministers, and the governors of the regions to be replaced by military commanders. 

There were no signs of unrest in Conakry overnight in response to the military takeover by the junta.

Guinea is a key global supplier of bauxite, an ore that’s processed into alumina and then aluminum, which is used in cars and cans. The bulk of the West African nation’s bauxite exports are sent to smelters in China, the biggest producer of the metal. Guinea shipped 82.4 million tons of the mineral globally last year, according to government data. 

China and Russia on Monday joined the United Nations and the U.S. in condemning the coup. 

“China opposes coup attempts to seize power and calls for the immediate release of President Conde,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Monday. “We hope all parties can be cool headed and exercise restraint, keep in mind the fundamental interests of the nation and people, address the relevant issue through dialog and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the country.”

Leaders of two African blocs have also pushed for Conde’s release. The Economic Community of West African States threatened sanctions against Guinea, while the African Union called for its Peace and Security Council to meet urgently over the matter.

Financial mismanagement

Conde’s overthrow was necessary to address financial mismanagement and corruption in Guinea, and the deposed leader is safe and has been in contact with his doctors, Doumbouya said on Sunday. 

The coup has upended a decade of stability in Guinea, and will be of concern to other African leaders, according to Eric Humphery-Smith, Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft. 

“While the feeling among many Guineans is jubilation, make no mistake that this is two steps backwards for both the country’s democracy and economy,” he said in emailed comments. “Recovering what until now was a stable and predictable operating environment is anything but a given.”

(By Ougna Camara and Baudelaire Mieu, with assistance from Leanne de Bassompierre, Katarina Hoije, Yinka Ibukun and Colum Murphy)

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