Guinea: Who is behind Conde’s sudden ouster?

Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire who led Sunday's putsch which overthrew Guinea's Alpha Condé was a kingpin in the…

Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire who led Sunday’s putsch which overthrew Guinea’s Alpha Condé was a kingpin in the security structure that was supposed to protect the ousted president.By Lemine Ould M. Salem

In the aftermath of his overthrow in August 2005 by a junta composed mainly of his closest military allies, former Mauritanian President Maaouiya Ould Taya had found no better reaction than these few words which were said to have been echoed over 2,200 years earlier by the King of Macedonia, Antigone II: “My God, keep me from my friends! As for my enemies, I’ll take care of them!”.

Sixteen years after the Mauritanian with whom he had 
had an old personal relationship, Alpha Condé, 83, toppled Sunday, September 5 by part of his army, will no doubt remember this ancient phrase.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, leader of the putschists who ousted him, is none other than one of the main military leaders to whom he had entrusted the security of his regime.

A former master corporal of the French Army’s Foreign Legion, Doumbouya joined the Guinean army in the wake of Conde’s first election as the country’s president in 2010.
 Appointed lieutenant after a brief stint in a military school in the city of Thiès, Senegal, the former French soldier received several internships abroad, especially Israel and France, paving the way for his rapid rise to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and as commander of the Special Forces Group(GFS).

It is thanks to this elite unit, by far the best trained and equipped in the Guinean army and that he himself set up at the personal request of Mr. Conde, according to the words of a former adviser to the deposed president and familiar with Doumbouya, that the former French soldier seized power in his home country on Sunday. 

Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya’s men quickly neutralized the presidential guard, whose elements had at one point tried to challenge the coup’s execution.

The coupists did not seem to have run into much difficulty while arresting the head of state. 

In a video they posted on social media, Conde sporting blue jeans and an unbuttoned shirt, is seen surrounded by armed men asking him if he is being treated well, but he does not respond. 

Generally credible sources have told APA that deposed President Conde was taken to Camp Makombo where he is now being detained.

Until late on Sunday, a rumour, the veracity of which was difficult to verify, claimed that Conde’s Defense minister, Mohamed Diane, had died after being hit in the skull by a bullet.

According to a source familiar with the new men in charge in Conakry, the minister’s hostility to the GFS leader’s desire to make his unit autonomous from his department was the catalyst for the former French legionnaire’s coup.

In a statement read on national television at midday on Sunday, wearing a red beret and dark glasses, the man who is already Guinea’s new strongman announced the dissolution of the constitution and institutions, such as the government.

He spoke of the establishment of a National Committee for Rally and Development (CRND) and claimed that the “socio-political and economic situation of the country, the dysfunction of republican institutions, the instrumentalization of justice, the trampling of citizens’ rights had justified his coup against Conde. 

These are all part of the grievances Guinea’s opposition has been levelling against the now toppled head of state.

In the first hours following the announcement of the coup by the head of the special forces, supporters of the main opposition figure, Cellou Dalein Diallo, a perennially disgruntled rival of Alpha Conde at the ballot box since his first election in 2010, took to the streets of Conakry to celebrate.

In several districts of the Guinean capital and its suburbs, such as Bambeto inhabited mainly by the Fulani community from which Dalein Diallo hails, there was a festive air about the demonstrations and support for the putsch staged spontaneously.

The officer, whose coup was, according to diplomatic practice, unanimously condemned by the country’s main partners, including the African Union, the United Nations and France, has so far given no indication of what he intends to do to return Guinea to its broken constitutional order.

Will the former legionnaire, a father of three and whose wife, a French gendarme, still in active service, be tempted in his turn, like many of his putschist brothers-in-arms in Africa, to keep power? 

Or will this Franco-Guinean military man, who in his first public appearance quoted the late Captain Jerry Rawlings, father of Ghana’s exemplary democracy, rush to organize a transition and bring a new civilian to power? 

That’s the question.

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