Guineans were waiting for the first decisions on Wednesday from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is due to meet at a virtual summit to discuss the putsch that overthrew Guinean President Alpha Condé.
The soldiers led by the head of the special forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, can claim a certain popularity, as evidenced by the demonstrations of sympathy of the population in different neighborhoods of Conakry, still fueled by the release Tuesday evening of a first group of dozens of opponents of the fallen regime.
The ECOWAS, which condemned the lightning takeover and the arrest of Mr. Condé on Sunday, is due to meet in a virtual extraordinary summit from 2 p.m. GMT. The regional organization finds itself in a situation comparable to that it experienced during a similar putsch in neighboring Mali in August 2020.
It then took essentially economic sanctions – stopping trade outside basic necessities, closing borders – and suspending the country from the organization. These sanctions were lifted following the commitment of the Malian military on the path of a transition of up to 18 months to return power to civilian leaders resulting from elections.
The epilogue of more than ten years of Alpha Condé’s rule has aroused widespread international condemnation and calls for “immediate release“of Mr. Condé and the reestablishment of” constitutional order “in this poor country with significant mineral resources, including bauxite.
The putschists, who promised a “concertation” national with a view to a political transition entrusted to a future “government of national unity” say they acted to end “financial mismanagement” and at “trampling of citizens’ rights”.
They dissolved the government and the institutions and abolished the Constitution that Mr. Condé had adopted in 2020, invoking this change in fundamental law to stand for re-election after two terms, despite months of blood-suppressed protest.
Nearly 80 detainees, including several of the main figures in this protest, were released on Tuesday evening following consultations between the new authorities, the prison administration and their lawyers.
AFP correspondents saw about twenty of them come out of the civilian prison in Conakry to the cheers of their supporters and relatives.
One of them, Ismaël Condé, defector of the former presidential party sentenced to prison for remarks suggesting that only weapons could oust Alpha Condé from power, said he prayed for “a new era for Guinea “. “We come out refreshed to continue the fight for a free and democratic Guinea”, he assured.
“Our fight against the third term has been successful, we have won“, declared for his part Oumar Sylla, alias Foniké Mengué, one of the main animators of this protest.
The military instituted a curfew and closed the borders, before announcing its reopening on Monday.
No deaths linked to the putsch have been officially reported. But Guinean media have reported ten to twenty dead in the ranks of the presidential guard, unverifiable information due to lack of access to hospitals. The photos and names of at least ten victims, accompanied by messages of condolence, circulated on social networks.
The coup, after months of political and socio-economic crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, sparked outbursts of joy in Conakry. An opposition coalition led by Mr. Condé’s main opponent, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, has expressed support for the new military power.
“We are behind Doumbouya”, Abdoul Gadiri Diallo told AFP, in Bambéto, a suburb known to be favorable to the opposition, regularly shaken by clashes between demonstrators and security forces, “He is going to straighten out that country very well, we are counting on him”.
For another inhabitant of Bambéto, Kaba Kemoko Lamine, “the people had been waiting for this for a very long time and the opportunity was there”.