Members of the Guinea military staged an apparent coup Sunday, declaring on national television that they had arrested President Alpha Conde, dissolved the country’s constitution, and sealed off land and air borders.
The junta later announced a nationwide curfew, Agence France Press reported.
A video emerged hours into the apparent takeover that showed Conde in a room surrounded by special forces soldiers, sitting on a coach wearing a wrinkled shirt and jeans. The junta later issued a statement saying the 83-year-old Conde was not harmed and was in contact with his doctors.
In October, the president won a third term in office after amending the constitution to allow him to run again. The controversial election sparked violent protests throughout the country.
Army Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, appeared on national television Sunday, draped in the Guinea flag.
“We have dissolved government and institutions,” Doumbouya said. “We call our brothers in arms to join the people.”
Doumbouya cited mismanagement of the government as a reason for his actions. He calls his group of soldiers the National Rally and Development Committee (CNRD).
CNRD said on state television later Sunday that all governors had been replaced by military leaders, but that all outgoing ministers were invited to a meeting Monday at parliament.
"Any failure to attend will be considered as a rebellion against the CNRD," the group said in a statement.
Fighting was reported earlier Sunday in Conakry, but following the announcement on television, many took to the streets to celebrate what they believed to be a successful coup.
A statement issued Sunday by the U.S. State Department condemned the coup, warning that the “extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity” and limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners “to support the country as it navigates a path toward national unity.”
The State Department urged all sides to forge “a process of national dialogue to address concerns sustainably and transparently to enable a peaceful and democratic way forward for Guinea to realize its full potential.”
International groups were quick to condemn the unrest in Guinea.
“I strongly condemn any takeover of the government by force of the gun and call for the immediate release of President Alpha Conde,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter.
ECOWAS Chairman and Ghana President Nana Akuffo-Addo condemned what he called an “attempted coup” in a statement released Sunday, calling for the unconditional release of Conde.
France also condemned the “attempted seizure of power by force” and called for Conde’s release, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
African Union leaders called on the body’s Peace and Security Council to meet urgently to discuss the situation.
Some information in this report came from AP, Reuters and AFP