Guinea’s military junta tightens grip on power

Military leaders in Guinea are seeking to cement their grip on power, after overthrowing the government of President Alpha Conde on Sunday. The junta says it will set up a transitional government, but gave no timeline. The international community has widely condemned the coup and demanded the release of the detained president. But inside the West African country, the takeover is enjoying ample support.

There was a rapturous welcome for Guinea’s military commanders, one day after they seized power in a coup. Some citizens hail their action as a move against a president who was veering into autocracy.

Ministers from the ousted government were summoned to a meeting to hear their fate. The coup leader Mamady Doumbouya promised to establish a transition government, but set no timeline, and made no mention of elections.

Doumbouya is a former French legionnaire officer who had been appointed by the president to head an elite unit. He said he was motivated by Guinea’s ‘poverty and endemic corruption.’
Some opposition politicians welcomed the intervention.

Deposed President Alpha Conde is a former opposition leader and human rights professor elected in 2010, promising to be Guinea’s Nelson Mandela. But after two terms in office, Conde changed the constitution to allow himself to be elected again, setting off opposition protests in which dozens were killed. Recently he introduced austerity measures, including cuts in military spending, which some observers say might have pushed coup leaders into action.

Soldiers remained on the streets on Monday, searching vehicles for weapons to prevent any counter-insurgency. Guinea previously spent years under military rule. Now it has entered another period of suspended democracy.