Guinea: Confiscated passports, no revenge…details from the first meeting

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Guinea Coup – the Fall of Alpha Condé

By Diawo Barry, in Conakry

Posted on Tuesday, 7 September 2021 16:34
Residents cheer on army soldiers after the uprising that led to the toppling of president Alpha Conde in Kaloum neighbourhood of Conakry, Guinea September 6, 2021 REUTERS/Souleyma e Camara

On Monday, 24 hours after overthrowing president Alpha Condé, Mamady Doumbouya and his men summoned former government members to a meeting. No one missed it. Former Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana was present, as was former Minister of Defense Mohamed Diané, and former Secretary-General of the Presidency, Kiridi Bangoura. Not even the former government spokesman, Tibou Kamara was left out - all had responded to the summons served the day before...not that they had much choice.

“Any refusal to report [on Monday] will be considered a rebellion”, said the coup leaders. The military commanders, heads of police, and the gendarmerie also had to report to the meeting.

The former ministers and heads of state were welcomed in a tent close to the People’s palace, a few metres from the building in which the Special Forces Unit set up its headquarters only a few months ago.

Since the arrest of president Alpha Condé on 5 September, it is in this tent where the heart of power lies. According to our information, it is also where they took Alpha Condé on Sunday evening, after his removal from office. Some sources say that he has since been taken to another location, which for now is kept secret.

Confiscated passports

Prime Minister of Guinea Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Defence Minister Mohamed Diane and other government members gather to attend a meeting with special forces commander Mamady Doumbouya, in Conakry, Guinea September 6, 2021. REUTERS/Souleymane Camara

At 11:30 am, the leader of the coup made his entrance in front of a crowd of curious spectators. The ex-officials were silent.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Boumbouya, commander of special forces and the man who toppled Alpha Condé, wastes no time. In the first five minutes, he swiftly announced that everything will be done to ensure that economic activity will continue as normal. In mining areas, he said, the curfew was lifted and maritime borders were reopened to allow trade to recommence.

He took the time to take a swipe at the previous leaders of state. “The people have suffered from the shameful behaviour of those who call themselves elites”, he said, whilst reassuring the people that “there will be no sense of hate, or revenge, and no witch hunt.”

All officials have been banned from travelling and ordered to hand over their passports and official vehicles to the military. They have been taken to an annexe and placed under tight surveillance, where no one can enter or leave.

Have they been arrested? Are they merely temporarily detained? Doumbouya did not say any more at the meeting.

The suspense was short-lived. Moments later, the ministers who had complied were released, free to return home in a country of which the new leaders of the country appear committed to securing.

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