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Military coup in Guinea: Removal of president reverses African nation’s gradual crawl in direction of democracy

This is a dramatic setback for Guinea, the place many had hoped the nation had turned the web page on navy energy grabs.

On Sunday, the junta in Guinea arrested President Alpha Conde and seized energy in a coup.

The junta additionally stated Guinea’s provincial governors would get replaced by regional commanders. A nightly curfew was put in place, and the nation’s structure and National Assembly had been each dissolved.

The navy junta has refused to situation a timeline for releasing Conde, saying the 83-year-old deposed chief nonetheless had entry to medical care and his docs. The elimination of Conde, the primary freely-elected president in Guinea’s historical past, is a devastating blow that reverses the African nation’s gradual crawl in direction of democracy.

It was a dramatic setback for Guinea, the place many had hoped the nation had turned the web page on navy energy grabs.

But earlier than we look at the nation’s chequered historical past, let’s first familiarise ourselves with it:

Where is it situated? Bordering Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, it’s 80 % Muslim however is made up of quite a few ethnic teams, the principle two being the Fulani and the Malinkes.

What ought to we find out about it? Guinea is an impoverished west African nation regardless of a wealth of pure sources.

Slightly larger than Britain, it sits on a wealth of pure sources. It is notably one of many world’s prime producers of bauxite, the chief mineral used within the manufacturing of aluminium but in addition a producer of iron, gold, diamonds and oil. Agriculture is the principle supply of employment.

GDP grew 5.6 % in 2019 and 5.2 % in 2020, in response to the African Development Bank, which expects an increase topping 5 % this 12 months based mostly on sturdy efficiency in mining and in addition the approaching onstream of the flagship Souapiti hydropower station, northeast of capital Conakry.

Corruption is a serious downside: Transparency International ranked Guinea 137th out of 180 on its index final 12 months and social inequalities are stark with roughly half of the 13 million inhabitants residing under the poverty line, in response to the nation’s nationwide statistical institute. Many folks additionally don’t have any entry to electrical energy and operating water, in response to the World Bank.

FGM rampant: Guinea has among the many world’s highest incidences of feminine genital mutilation (FGM), UNICEF saying round 97 % of women and girls bear circumcision. The nation was additionally hit by the worst outbreak thus far of Ebola, which began within the nation in December 2013 and lasted three years. The outbreak left 11,000 west Africans useless: 2,500 of them in Guinea.

Mandingo music: Guinea is, with Mali, the cradle of mandingo music performed with conventional devices together with the harp-like kora and the balafon, a sort of xylophone. One of its most well-known exponents, Mory Kante, who died in May final 12 months, scored a worldwide hit in 1987 with Yeke Yeke.

A protracted, bloody historical past           

Guinea has been beset by political instability and spent many years beneath authoritarian or dictatorial regimes.

The former French colony is the one Francophone state on the continent to have rejected in 1958 the Franco-African neighborhood proposed by then French president Charles de Gaulle.

Instead, the nation plumped for independence and put in a socialist regime which Ahmed Sekou Toure would go on to rule with an iron fist for 1 / 4 of a century. Under his rule, some 50,000 folks had been killed or just disappeared, in response to human rights organisations.

In 1984, Lansana Conte took management of the nation. He remained in energy for a quarter-century till his loss of life in 2008 and was accused of siphoning off State coffers to counterpoint his household and buddies.

The nation’s second coup quickly adopted, placing military Captain Moussa “Dadis” Camara in cost. During his rule, on 28 September, 2009, safety forces massacred 157 folks at a rally gathering tens of hundreds of Opposition supporters in Conakry protesting Camara’s anticipated participation within the subsequent presidential election, whereas 109 girls had been raped, in response to UN sources.

Camara later went into exile after surviving an assassination try, and a transitional authorities organised the landmark 2010 election received by Conde.

Democratic transition and reversal

On 7 November, 2010, long-time Opposition mainstay Alpha Conde turned the primary freely-elected president in Guinea’s historical past. He was re-elected in 2015 for a second time period after a ballot marred by violence and amid accusations of fraud.

Violent avenue demonstrations broke out final 12 months after Conde organised a referendum to switch the structure.  Conde’s standing for a 3rd time period final October led to tensions in addition to the arrest of dozens of opponents however he was proclaimed the winner on 7 November regardless of challenges to the end result from important rival Cellou Dalein Diallo and three different candidates claiming poll stuffing and different irregularities.

Then, on Sunday, military putschists stated that they’d “captured” President Alpha Conde and dissolved the federal government, in a video despatched to AFP. But the scenario on the bottom remained unclear as  Conde’s authorities additionally launched an announcement saying that an assault on the presidential palace by particular forces had been “repulsed”.

Residents reached by phone in Kaloum reported listening to sustained gunfire. Speaking on situation of anonymity for his or her security, they reported seeing a variety of troopers on the streets who known as on residents to return to their properties and keep there.

This as gunfire was heard within the centre of the Guinean capital Conakry and troops had been seen on the streets, witnesses instructed AFP. There was no speedy clarification for the incidents in Conakry’s Kaloum peninsula, the place the presidency, varied establishments and workplaces are situated. Authorities within the West African nation weren’t commenting on the scenario.

That identical day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, condemning the occasions, urged putschists to launch Conde.

“I am personally following the situation in Guinea very closely. I strongly condemn any takeover of the government by force of the gun and call for the immediate release of President Alpha Conde,” Guterres tweeted.

With inputs from companies

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