Guinea coup leaders promise to free political prisoners

Published : September 08, 2021 11:17 IST
Opposition activists welcomed the news but said the military has yet to make good on its word. Ousted President Alpha Conde has been seen on video, though did not answer questions about whether he was being mistreated.

The special forces soldiers who overthrew the Guinean government have promised that they would release "political detainees" thrown in prison under the rule of ousted President Alpha Conde. Supporters of FDNC — Guinea's leading opposition group under Conde's rule — welcomed the news and gathered outside the country's central prison in the capital, Conakry. However, the group said that despite assurances from the military, none of their activists had yet been set free.

At the same time,coup organizers led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya began to consolidate power on September 7 as they installed military commanders as governors of the country's eight administrative regions.

"The government to be installed will be that of national unity and will ensure this political transition," Doumbouya wrote on Twitter. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it will be holding crisis talks to address the situation developing in Guinea. The organization has condemned Conde's ouster.

How did the coup play out?

Soldiers rushed the presidential palace on Sunday and removed Conde, an increasingly unpopular and authoritarian president. Doubts have been cast on the validity of his 2015 reelection, and in 2020 he oversaw a change to the constitution that brought him to a third term in power.

Corruption and negligence by his administration were also blamed for the flatlining economy in the impoverished nation, issues that were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite assurances from the army that the transition had been "peaceful," local media have reported that five presidential guards were killed in the putsch.

There have also been promises that former government officials will be granted amnesty, but they have been barred from leaving the country. Although the military has said Conde is safe, his whereabouts remain unknown. In a video sent to French news agency AFP, Conde appeared to be surrounded by troops and refused to answer questions about whether he was being mistreated.

es/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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