The head of Guinea’s special forces appeared on state television on Sunday, announcing the suspension of the West African country’s constitution after a morning of heavy gunfire and reports of a coup d’état in the capital Conakry.
The move comes barely a year after the president, Alpha Condé, won a controversial third term after amending the constitution, effectively setting the clock to zero for Mr. Conde and allowing him to remain in power after the limit. of two terms.
And it happened in a country that has experience of coups – in 1984 and in 2008 – before Condé became the country’s first democratically elected leader. His government has made Guinea a major exporter of bauxite, which is used to produce aluminum, but human rights groups say mining companies have turned the lives and livelihoods of rural communities upside down.
Special forces chief Mamady Doumbouya said on state television on Sunday: “We have decided to dissolve the Constitution from now on.” He appeared with the national flag of Guinea draped around his shoulders and members of the military around him. He said he was acting in response to the will of the people.
Videos of Mr Condé apparently circulating on social media under heavy surveillance, his clothes in slight disarray.
Other videos showed Guineans taking to the streets to celebrate and military vehicles driving through the streets of Conakry accompanied by dozens of motorcycles, their riders raising their fists in the air.
Colonel Doumbouya is a former member of the French Foreign Legion who, according to videos posted online by Guinean news media, received training at Flintlock, the United States military’s largest annual exercise in Africa.