The takeover was condemned by international powers, pressuring military leaders to come up with a plan beyond overthrowing the old order.
Leaders of a military coup in Guinea on Monday promised to put in place a transitional government of national unity after ousting President Alpha Condé and dissolving his cabinet.
Sunday’s coup, 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 strides towards multiparty democracy since the 1990s.
The takeover has been widely condemned by international powers, pressuring the new military leaders to come up with a plan that goes beyond overthrowing the old order and reassuring investors that the large exports of ore from Guinea would not be reduced.
“A consultation will be conducted to define the major framework for the transition, then a government of national unity will be set up to lead the transition,” said putschist Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionary officer, at a meeting of ministers of Condé. and senior government officials.
“At the end of this transitional phase, we will set the tone for a new era of governance and economic development,” he declared, flanked by armed soldiers in red berets.
Doumbouya did not specify what the transition would involve or give a date for a return to democratic elections.
His seizure of power was fostered by widespread disaffection with Condé, 83, who promised stable democracy but once in power violently silenced opponents, failed to reduce poverty and ruled the last year to run for a third term – a move that many have called illegal.
The coup was welcomed by many, but frightened the mining sector. Guinea has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, a mineral used to produce aluminum. Prices for the metal hit a 10-year high on Monday, although there were no signs of a supply disruption.
In an effort to allay fears, Doumbouya said sea borders will remain open so mining products can be exported. A nighttime curfew now in place does not apply to the mining sector, he said.
“I can assure business and economic partners that activities will continue normally in the country. We ask the mining companies to continue their activities, ”he said.
Light traffic resumed and some stores reopened around the main administrative district of Kaloum in Conakry which was the scene of heavy gunfire throughout Sunday as special forces clashed with soldiers loyal to Condé. A military spokesman said on television that the land and air borders had also been reopened.
Yet a crackdown was evident. Doumbouya banned government officials from leaving the country and ordered them to hand over their official vehicles.
Politicians who attended Monday’s meeting were then escorted by soldiers in red berets through a mocking crowd to the army unit headquarters in Conakry.
Two diplomatic sources said Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Minister of Presidential Affairs Mohamed Dian and President of the National Assembly Amadou Damaro Camara had been arrested.
Amnesty International, in a statement released on Monday, called on the coup plotters to clarify the legal basis for Condé’s detention and to release those Condé had arbitrarily detained in the months surrounding last year’s elections.
Regional experts say, however, that unlike in landlocked Mali where neighbors and partners were able to pressure a junta after a coup in August 2020, influence over the army in Guinea could be limited because it is not. landlocked and also because it is not a member of the West African monetary union.