Uneasy calm has returned to Guinea’s capital, Conakry after President Lansana Conte reportedly began negotiations with the military to end tensions resulting from the dismissal of his defense minister. Conte sacked General Mamadou Bailo Diallo Tuesday on the second day of a mutiny by soldiers protesting over what they said was back pay owed to them by the Conte government. Conakry was reportedly deserted after workers left their jobs as tensions escalated with news of Diallo’s dismissal. Soldiers reportedly mounted roadblocks and began shooting into the air in an apparent celebration of the sacking. Alexandre Foulon is a businessman in Guinea’s capital, Conakry. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Conte is still holding talks with the military to find a lasting solution to ongoing tensions in the country.
“The Army minister was sacked around three today. After the announcement on the radio, the military shot in the air in the military camp in the city center. And now President Lasana Conte is supposed to be in the camp. He is inside the camp to negotiate with the military,” Foulon noted.
He said tensions have been high after the gunfire from celebrating soldiers.
“The tensions were quite high in the afternoon at five. Everybody left work around four pm to go to the suburbs because they were fearing that the military will install some more checkpoints on the way outside Conakry. So, everybody left work around four p.m., and now the situation is better, since there are no more shots being fired in the city, and they are going back to the streets. But they are still fearing and unsure what will happen next,” he said.
Foulon said the opposition and workers union have so far been quiet.
“I have not heard anything from them after listening to the radio and the television. They have not said anything. Neither the opposition party nor the workers union have said anything,” Foulon pointed out.
He reiterated that tensions are still high the capital, Conakry.
“Everybody is waiting for the outcome to this military crisis and hoping that the situation would be better in the next few hours,” he said.
Foulon said most people are unsure of the current situation since the government is yet to come out with an explanation of the crisis.
“The news is not out yet outside the city center Conakry, and that is one of the problems. Now it is only the ones in the city center can really talk about these shots that were fired, but nothing has come out yet on the radio. Some military sources say the gunfire resulted from just joy that led to the military shooting into the air. But some other sources say that it was just some of the army officers who were rejoicing that the former minister was sacked,” Foulon pointed out.
He said the president has not yet made an official statement about the negotiations with the military.
“Not yet. He (President Conte) is supposed to be inside the camp negotiating with the military, but we don’t know exactly what is going on. Some sources say the military was just celebrating this dismissal of the army minister, but some also say it is the disapproval of the dismissal of the defense minister,” he said.