0402 GMT December 09, 2021
Mutinous soldiers in the West African nation of Guinea detained President Alpha Conde on Sunday after hours of heavy gunfire rang out near the presidential palace in the capital, then announced on state television that the government had been dissolved in an apparent coup d'etat.
The country's borders were closed and its Constitution was declared invalid in the announcement read aloud on state television by Army Col. Mamadi Doumbouya, who told Guineans: "The duty of a soldier is to save the country", CBS News reported.
"We will no longer entrust politics to one man. We will entrust it to the people," said Doumbouya, draped in a Guinean flag with about a half dozen other soldiers flanked at his side.
The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS quickly condemned the developments, threatening sanctions if Conde was not immediately released. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he strongly condemned "any takeover of the government by force of the gun".
Russia on Monday called for the immediate release of Guinean President Conde, joining other nations which denounced the coup, according to Reuters.
The U.S. State Department warned against violence and urged authorities in Guinea to avoid "extra-constitutional" actions that "will only erode Guinea's prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity."
Conde's whereabouts had been unknown for hours after the intense fighting Sunday in downtown Conakry until a video emerged showing the 83-year-old leader tired and disheveled in military custody.
The junta later released a statement saying Conde was in contact with his doctors. But they gave no timeline for releasing him other than to do say: "Everything will be fine. When the time comes, we will issue a statement."
Conde, in power for more than a decade, had seen his popularity plummet since he sought a third term last year, saying that term limits did not apply to him. Sunday's dramatic developments underscored how dissent had mounted within the military as well.
Doumbouya, who had been the commander of the Guinea’s Army's Special Forces unit, called on other soldiers "to put themselves on the side of the people" and stay in their barracks.
Doumbouya cast himself as a patriot of Guinea, which he said had failed to progress economically since gaining independence from France decades earlier. Observers, though say the tensions between Guinea’s president and the army colonel stem from a recent proposal to cut some military salaries.
Guinea's coup leader promised on Monday that the country would honor its business commitments, according to AFP.
A committee set up by the junta assures "economic and financial partners that activities in the country are continuing as normal," Doumbouya said in a speech.
"The committee assures partners that it will respect all its undertakings," he said.
Guinea has had a long history of political instability. In 1984, Lansana Conte took control of the country after the first post-independence leader died. He remained in power for a quarter century until his death in 2008, accused of siphoning off state coffers to enrich his family and friends.
The country's second coup soon followed, putting army Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara in charge. During his rule, security forces opened fire on demonstrators at a stadium in Conakry who were protesting his plans to run for president. Human rights groups have said more than 150 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped. Camara later went into exile after surviving an assassination attempt, and a transitional government organized the landmark 2010 election won by Conde.