Guinea’s army coup leaders summon ministers after president’s ouster

Soldiers who ousted Guinean President Alpha Conde summoned his ministers and top government officials to a meeting on Monday, a day after a coup that drew international condemnation.

A spokesperson for the army unit told state television that failure to attend the meeting would be considered a “rebellion.”

Soldiers hold a checkpoint in the Kaloum neighbourhood of Conakry on Monday, a day after the uprising that led to the toppling of President Alpha Conde. (Souleymane Camara/Reuters)

The military force that seized power and detained Conde announced Monday it had reopened the airports, allowing commercial and humanitarian flights to arrive in the West African country.

Guinean government officials, however, are barred from travel until further notice, and must hand over their official vehicles to the military, special forces commander Lt.-Col. Mamady Doumbouya told a government gathering on Monday. 

Bauxite prices rise on political turmoil

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 skyrocketing 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.

Guinea is the world’s second-biggest producer of the raw material, which is refined into alumina, a substance used to make aluminum metal, and the top supplier to China.

China opposed the military takeover, urged the immediate release of Conde, and called on all parties concerned to “act with restraint” and resolve the issue through dialogue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

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

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

WATCH | Guinea’s soldiers set up checkpoints after president’s ouster:

Guinea’s soldiers set up checkpoints after president’s ouster

Soldiers searched cars on the road leading to the city centre of Conakry, capital of Guinea, on Monday, a day after the West African country’s military ousted President Alpha Conde. (Credit: Reuters/ Souleymane Camara) 0:37

The special forces unit is led by Doumbouya, a former French foreign legionnaire officer, who said on state television on Sunday that “poverty and endemic corruption” had driven his forces to remove Conde from office.

The apparent coup has been met by condemnation from some of Guinea’s strongest allies. The United Nations quickly denounced the takeover, and both the African Union and West Africa’s regional bloc have threatened sanctions.

U.S. may have to limit support 

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.

Regional experts say that unlike in landlocked Mali where neighbours and partners were able to pressure a junta there after a coup, leverage on the military in Guinea could be limited because it is not landlocked, and also because it is not a member of the West African currency union.

People celebrate in the streets of Conakry with members of Guinea’s armed forces after Conde’s arrest in a coup on Sunday. (Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

A crowd of people could be seen celebrating in the streets of Conakry on Sunday, with revellers running alongside vehicles carrying members of Guinea’s armed forces after the president’s arrest.

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.