The Guinean army consolidates its takeover, the leader of the opposition signals its openness to the transition
CONAKRY, Sept. 7 (Reuters) – Guinea’s main opposition leader said on Tuesday he was ready to participate in a transition following a military coup at the weekend, as soldiers who seized power consolidated their seizure of power.
West African countries have threatened sanctions following the overthrow of President Alpha Condé, who was serving a third term after changing the constitution to allow it.
His opponents said the change was illegal and that frustration turned into deadly protests last year. Eighty political prisoners held by the Condé government, including a number who had campaigned against his third term, were released Tuesday evening, said Hamidou Barry of the Guinean Organization for Human Rights.
Regional leaders will meet to discuss Guinea on Wednesday – not Thursday, as suggested in a previous staff note.
The coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former officer of the French Foreign Legion, promised a transitional government of national unity and a “new era for governance and economic development”. But he has yet to explain exactly what that will involve, or give a timeline. Read more
The main Guinean opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, told Reuters on Tuesday that he had not yet been consulted on the transition but was ready to participate. Read more
“We would send representatives, why not, to participate in the process of returning the country to constitutional order,” said Diallo, a former prime minister who finished second to Conde in three successive elections, the last in October.
Sunday’s uprising, in which Conde and other senior politicians were arrested or prevented from traveling, is the third since April in West and Central Africa, raising concerns over a return to military rule in a region that has made progress towards multiparty democracy since the 1990s.
Conakry was calm for a second day after the putsch, with the removal of some military checkpoints. Traffic was normal on Tuesday in the capital of the capital, the Kaloum peninsula.
In an attempt to consolidate their power, the soldiers who led the coup installed army officers atop Guinea’s eight regions and various administrative districts.
The coup has raised concerns about the supply of bauxite, the main aluminum ore, from Guinea, one of the main producers.
The benchmark aluminum contract on the London Metal Exchange remained near a 10-year high on Monday.
However, the mines did not report any disturbance. Chinese aluminum producer Chalco (601600.SS) bauxite project in Guinea said it was operating normally.
Australian bauxite and gold exploration companies Lindian Resources (LIN.AX) and Polymetals Resources (POL.AX) also said on Tuesday that their operations were unaffected.
The Kremlin has said it is monitoring the political situation closely and hopes that Russian business interests, which include three large bauxite mines and an alumina refinery, will not suffer. Read more
During his decade in power, Condé guided Guinea through economic growth, but unemployment remained high.
Afrobarometer polls suggest the majority of Guineans believe the level of corruption has increased, while dissatisfaction with the economy and personal living conditions has also increased.
Diallo said corruption has become endemic under Condé.
“An elite that got rashly enriched, as poverty increased and the country’s infrastructure collapsed. There was also general unrest in the country,” he said.
Additional reporting by Hereward Holland and Bate Felix Editing by Kevin Liffey and Grant McCool
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