Guinea army leader bars foreign travel for government officials

A screen grab of a CGTN news bulletin showing Guinean coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya who barred foreign travel for government officials on September 6, 2021./CGTN

Guinean government officials are barred from leaving the country until further notice and a curfew imposed in mining areas has been lifted, the leader of an army unit that ousted President Alpha Conde said on Monday.

A screengrab of a CGTN news bulletin showing Guinean army leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya who barred foreign travel for government officials on September 6, 2021./CGTN

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya – a former French legionnaire officer – told a gathering of Conde’s ministers, including the prime minister and top government officials, that they should also hand back their official vehicles. “There will be no witch hunt,” he said a day after the coup which drew international condemnation and threats of sanctions.

The takeover in the West African nation that holds the world’s largest bauxite reserves, an ore used to produce aluminum, sent prices of the metal sky-rocketing to a 10-year high on Monday over fears of further supply disruption in the downstream market. There was no indication of such disruption yet.

Light traffic resumed, and some shops reopened around the main administrative district of Kaloum in Conakry which witnessed heavy gunfire throughout Sunday as the special forces battled soldiers loyal to Conde. A military spokesman said on television that land air borders had also been reopened.

However, uncertainty remains. While the army unit appeared to have Conde in detention, telling the West African nation on state television that they had dissolved the government and constitution, other branches of the army are yet to publicly comment.

Doumbouya said on state television on Sunday that “poverty and endemic corruption” had driven his forces to remove Conde from office.

The weekend events in Guinea have been met by condemnation from some of Guinea’s strongest allies. The United Nations quickly denounced the action and both the African Union and West Africa’s regional bloc have threatened sanctions.

In an overnight statement, the U.S. State Department said that violence and extra-constitutional measures could erode Guinea’s prospects for stability and prosperity.

“These actions could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country,” the statement said.

Although mineral wealth has fuelled economic growth during Conde’s reign, few citizens significantly benefited, contributing to pent-up frustration among millions of jobless youths.

Despite an overnight curfew, the headquarters of Conde’s presidential guard was looted by people who made off with rice, cans of oil, air conditioners and mattresses, a Reuters correspondent said.