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Guinea: The secret story behind the fall of President Alpha Condé

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

By François Soudan
Posted on Thursday, 9 September 2021 17:51

Alpha Conde during a campaign meeting in Kissidougou, 12 October 2020 © CAROL VALADE/AFP

Following Guinea's coup d'etat on 5 September led by Mamady Doumbouya, the regional bloc ECOWAS has just announced its suspension. A high-level mission will be sent over to evaluate the situation before any further decisions are made. But in the aftermath of the coup, there are questions that stand out: Why was it so easy to capture President Alpha Condé? Why did he ignore everyone’s warnings about Doumbouya? And where does Conakry’s new master really come from?

Why was Alpha Condé so easily captured?

In principle, the presidential palace of Sékhoutouréya – located on the peninsula of Kaloum, in Conakry – was surrounded by a triple security cordon consisting of soldiers from the Bataillon Autonome de Sécurité Présidentiel (BASP), which was based at Camp Makambo, in the Boulbinet district, only a few kilometres away. But in the early morning of 5 September, the small detachments, who were sporting red berets and managing the three checkpoints along the avenue leading to the palace’s entrance gate, were still sleeping.

The BASP soldiers were loyal to the President – some of them came from within the ranks of the ruling Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG) – but were neither properly trained nor armed. French General Bruno Clément-Bollée, who worked hard to restructure the Guinean army as per Condé’s request, said that Sékhoutouréya was “one of the worst guarded palaces in West Africa.” Compared to how well protected the Plateau Palace in Abidjan is, “it’s night and day,” he adds.

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