The country’s special forces told the West African nation on Sunday they had captured President Conde, dissolved the nation’s government and constitution and closed its land and air borders.
As the United Nations and Nigeria, the region’s dominant power, condemned any takeover by force, the elite army unit’s head, Mamady Doumbouya, said “poverty and endemic corruption” had driven his forces to remove Conde from office.
“We have dissolved government and institutions,” Doumbouya said on state television, draped in Guinea’s national flag and surrounded by eight other armed soldiers. “We are going to rewrite a constitution together.”
The statement has been widely circulated on social networks but has not been broadcast on national television.
The coup plotters, with whom AFP’s correspondent confirmed the source of these images, broadcast a video of President Conde in their hands.
They ask him if he has been mistreated, and Alpha Conde, in jeans and a shirt on a sofa, refuses to answer them.
For its part, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “the insurgents (had) spread fear” in Conakry before taking the direction of the presidential palace, but that “the presidential guard, supported by the defense and security forces, loyalists and republicans, have contained the threat and pushed back the group of attackers.
Gunfire erupted and fighting broke out near the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry, on Sunday morning. Hours later, videos shared on social media, which Reuters could not immediately authenticate, showed Conde in a room surrounded by army special forces.
Conde, whose whereabouts were not clear, won a third term in October after changing the constitution to allow him to stand again.
That led to violent protests from the opposition,and in recent weeks the government has sharply increased taxes to replenish state coffers and raised the price of fuel by 20 per cent, causing widespread frustration.
By Sunday evening it was not clear if Doumbouya had seized total control, with the defence ministry having issued a statement saying an attack on the presidential palace had been repelled.
Conde is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu, a National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).