New Guinean junta leaders seek to tighten their grip on power


CONAKRY, Guinea – Guinea’s new military leaders on Monday sought to tighten their grip on power after toppling President Alpha Condé, ordering soldiers from his presidential guard to now join junta forces and prohibiting government officials from leaving the country.

After putting the West African nation back under military rule for the first time in more than a decade, the junta had already dissolved the National Assembly and the country’s constitution. On Monday, regional military commanders replaced governors of Guinea as the junta consolidated its control.

Junta President Colonel Mamady Doumbouya said the new military regime would not pursue vendettas against political enemies, but he also called on officials he summoned from the ousted Condé government to immediately hand over their passports. .

“There will be no spirit of hatred or revenge. There will be no witch hunts,” said Doumbouya, 41, addressing officials dressed in a red beret and sunglasses. black sun next to a crowd of armed soldiers. “But justice will be the compass that will guide every Guinean citizen.”

“For former members of the government, travel outside our borders will not be allowed during the transition,” said Doumbouya, who led the Guinean army’s special forces unit before taking power on Sunday. “All your travel documents and vehicles should be handed over to the general secretaries of your former departments.

The military junta refused to release a timetable for Conde’s release, saying the ousted 83-year-old leader still had access to medical care and his doctors. The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, however, called for his immediate release and threatened to impose sanctions if demand is not met.

Condé’s forced impeachment on Sunday came after the president sought and won a controversial third term last year, saying term limits did not apply to him. State television showed that the junta was greeted by jubilant Guineans, some of whom chanted “Freedom! As the military convoy passes through the streets.

While the political opposition and the junta have both called for Condé’s ouster, it was unclear on Monday how united the two would be in the future.

In its first comments since the coup, the longtime opposition National Alliance for Change and Democracy said Sunday’s government overthrow “brings hope for a new beginning for our nation.” . But the party also urged military leaders to quickly establish the rule of law.

It was also unclear on Monday how much support the junta leader had within the larger military. As the commander of the army’s special forces unit, he led elite soldiers, but it was still possible that others who had remained loyal to the ousted president would stage a backlash within hours or days. days to come.

The year after Condé’s first election, he narrowly survived an assassination attempt when gunmen surrounded his house overnight and shelled his room with rockets. Rocket propelled grenades landed inside the compound and one of his bodyguards was killed.

Violent street protests erupted last year after Condé called a referendum to change the constitution. The unrest escalated after his victory in the October election, and the opposition said dozens of people were killed during the crisis.

In neighboring Senegal, which has a large diaspora of Guineans opposed to Condé, the news of his political disappearance has been greeted with relief.

“President Alpha Condé deserves to be removed from office. He stubbornly tried to run for a third term when he had no right to do so, ”said Malick Diallo, a young Guinean trader from the Dakar suburbs.

“We know that a coup d’etat is not good,” said Mamadou Saliou Diallo, another Guinean living in Senegal. “A president must be elected by democratic vote. but we have no choice. We have a president who is too old, who no longer inspires Guineans and who does not want to leave power.


Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. The editors of Associated Press Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal, contributed.


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