On Sunday, the West African nation of Guinea was rocked by a coup and subsequent military takeover. The target of the coup, President Alpha Conde, has been deposed and is now being held under guard by the military. Several hours of gunfire occurred around the capital city of Conakry following the coup. Yet by the evening, Conde’s supporters had either laid down their arms or fled the city. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the coup leader has moved rapidly to consolidate his hold on power. In an announcement on state television, Doumbouya said “the Guinean personalization of political life is over. We will no longer entrust politics to one man, we will entrust it to the people.” This statement was a direct reference to the rampant corruption Conte was notorious for.
After meeting with government ministers earlier today, Doumbouya said a new “union” government will be formed in a matter of weeks and promised there will be no witch hunt against members of the former government. By many accounts from people on the ground in Guinea, the coup is being welcomed by many citizens. Conde was an unpopular leader whose corruption and desire for absolute power is well documented. Protests against his rule broke out in 2019 following a Conde-supported constitutional referendum leading to civil unrest and violence. Over 100 people reportedly were killed in these clashes.
Internationally though, Doumbouya’s action has brought on condemnation and threats of sanctions. The United Nations, Western African Union and regional ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) have all come out against the coup and called for a return to civilian rule. Africa has seen a number of coups in recent years and political stability is becoming less common. There is an economic element to this weekend’s action as well. Guinea holds the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, as well as untapped iron ore deposits. The markets for both bauxite and iron ore have been rattled as uncertainty over the political situation in Guinea is increasing considerably. This has the potential to cast a shadow over iron ore trading especially for a period of time.