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Guinea soldiers said that less than a year after he won a controversial third term in the mineral-rich West African country, they overthrew President Alpha Conte in an apparent military coup.
On Sunday, a group of armed men dressed in camouflage uniforms and national flags appeared on national television, declaring that Guineans had been abused by the country’s elite.
“We have the ability to control our own destiny,” one of the soldiers said on a national television broadcast, adding that the constitution will be disbanded and the border will be closed for a week.
However, the Guinea Ministry of Defense said in a statement that security forces prevented the attempted coup after heavy artillery fire broke out near the Presidential Palace in Conakry. “The Presidential Guard, with the support of loyalists and Republican defense and security forces, contained the threat and repelled the attackers,” it said.
But unconfirmed videos of Conte being surrounded by armed soldiers circulated on social media.
It is not clear who was behind the coup attempt, but Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying that an elite force led by former French veteran Mamady Doumbouya should be held responsible.
Guinea has a history of coups and failed coups. In 2011, less than a year after Conte was first elected, he survived an assassination attempt when his residence was attacked by rocket-propelled grenade.
Before becoming the first elected leader of this country with a population of 13 million in 2010, Conte lived in exile in France for many years, organizing the first post-colonial leader against Guinea, the dictator Ahmed Seku. Dull.
But his decision to change the constitution and Re-elected for the third term The protests that led to the world’s largest bauxite exporting country were violently suppressed by the state.
Guinea has some of the highest grade iron ore in the world, including the giant Simandou deposit in a protracted legal dispute.
This eventually resulted in Landmark international corruption trial Among them, the Israeli-French billionaire Beni Steinmetz was sentenced to five years in prison for bribing the wife of the late Guinea dictator Lansana Conte.
Most of Guinea’s income comes from mining exports. After the huge impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 2,500 Guineans, its economy has grown at an annual rate of more than 6% over the past five years.
But its huge mineral deposits have sparked accusations of large-scale corruption, and the country is still largely impoverished.
The coup attempt is Democracy regressed Across West and Central Africa. Mali has experienced two military coups in the past year, and Chadian strongman leader Idris Deby was killed by the rebels in April and was quickly replaced by his son. In Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara won his third term last year after amending the constitution, while the leaders of Benin and Congo-Brazzaville recently won with almost no opposition Election of candidates.
“We cannot assume that these soldiers will hand over power soon,” Judd De Vermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote on Twitter. “In fact, they may see the brothers of #Mali and #Chad continue to rule with minimal international sanctions.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter: “I strongly condemn any use of firearms to take over the government and call for the immediate release of President Alfa Conte.”