Guinean soldiers have seized control of the West African country in an apparent coup d’etat. Special forces led by Mamaday Boumdouya arrived in Conakry, the country’s capital, on September 5, to overthrow and arrest now-deposed President Alpha Conde.
NPR reports that Boumdouya later appeared on state television announcing the dissolution of the government and constitution along with the closure of the country’s land and air borders. He stated that the purpose of the coup was to end Conde’s corrupt rule so Guinea may have fair elections. According to CNN, Boumdouya told Guinean citizens that, “we will no longer entrust politics to man, we will entrust it to the people. We come only for that; it is the duty of a soldier to save his country.”
Conde won a controversial election in March 2020 that allowed him to serve a third term. BBC News reports that a new constitution was also approved in a referendum. Conde claimed that the new constitution allowed him to run for a third term, even though he has already served the maximum of two terms allowed by the previous constitution. Opposition leaders claimed that he was breaking the law and called for nationwide protests. Despite these protests, Conde remained in office.
Reuters reports that the United Nations and the U.S. State Department have condemned the coup, releasing statements warning of the consequences that this political instability will have for the peace and stability of Guinea and its international relationships. Neighboring countries have also called for order in the country. France 24 indicates that the Economic Community of West African States and The African Union have both suspended Guinea’s membership in the wake of the coup.
As president, Conde campaigned for office on a new model for economic growth, but after nearly 11 years in office, little improvement showed in Guinea’s impoverished communities. Conde’s government primarily boosted exports of bauxite, one of Guinea’s most profitable economic resources which is used in the manufacturing process of aluminum. However, a Human Rights Watch report shows that even though Guinea has become a leading exporter of bauxite, resource exploitation has devastated the lives of many rural Guineans. The Guinean government has been unable able to pay back the significant damage that mining bauxite has on the land, often to the detriment of the local population.
The report states specifically, “…damage to water sources that residents attribute to mining as well as increased demand due to population migration to mining sites, reduces communities access to water for drinking, washing, and cooking.” Despite the recent political upheaval, the mines have not been disrupted and are running like usual.
BBC News continues that Conde’s biggest challenger, Cellou Dalein Diallo, believes that the past two elections have been significantly influenced by fraud and that Conde has only promoted corruption in Guinea during his time in office. Reuters says Diallo is willing to contribute and work with a new transitional government, but he has not yet been informed of any plans to do so.