Former Guinean President Alpha Conde left the country for medical treatment in the United Arab Emirates after spending more than four months in the custody of the military junta that overthrew him, witnesses said Monday.
No details were given on his diagnosis, though witnesses at the airport in Conakry, the capital, confirmed that the 83-year-old former president’s plane was en route to Abu Dhabi.
There was no immediate confirmation from the junta-led transitional government, though officials had announced earlier this month that Conde wasn’t in good health and would be traveling abroad soon for care.
Conde’s ouster in September came less than a year after he ran and won a third term in office despite widespread protests. The ex-president had backed a constitutional referendum bending the term limit rules in order to do so.
The regional bloc known as ECOWAS and other members of the international community have called for Conde’s immediate release ever since he was detained in the September coup that overthrew him after more than a decade in power.
But Guinea’s new military rulers vowed that Conde wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country and seek exile. West African regional leaders put travel bans into place after the junta failed to release him. The financial assets of junta leaders also were frozen.
Conde came to power in 2010 during the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France in 1958. At the time, there were hopes that his presidency would turn the page after decades of dictatorship and corrupt rule in Guinea, home to mineral riches including the world’s largest bauxite reserves.
However, Conde’s bid to extend his rule sparked violent demonstrations by those who said he had bent the rule on term limits to his benefit. He ultimately won another five-year term in October 2020 only to be ousted the following September.