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West African leaders are preparing to negotiate with the Conakry putschists a year after the coup in Mali
Within hours of Colonel Mamady Doumbouya and his men seizing power in Conakry in the morning of 5 September and arresting President Alpha Condé, regional leaders were calling for a return to constitutional rule and threatening sanctions. Along with Russia, which was a close ally of Condé, they demanded his immediate release from custody.
There are reports that the soldiers are pressuring Condé to announce his resignation, which might give the would-be junta more room to manoeuvre (AC Vol 61 No 22, Condé shrugs off poll doubts). The Economic Community of West African states (Ecowas) has been joined by the African Union, UN Secretary General António Guterres, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and China's Foreign Ministry in condemning the coup and calling for Condé's release.
None of this seems to have slowed attempts by Col. Doumbouya, a former French Legionnaire, to consolidate power by announcing plans for a transitional government and hosting a televised encounter with Condé's ministers, all of whom were sacked and had their passports confiscated.
After that, Col. Doumbouya drove through the streets of the capital and greeted cheering crowds, although it was difficult to assess how far his reception was choreographed. From the first minutes of the putsch, faithfully recorded on social media, Doumbouya has managed communications astutely.
On the politics front, he has been long on aspiration – '… at the end of this transitional phase, we'll set the tone for a new era for governance and economic development' – but short on detail such as timelines and the names of any civilians in the new government.
With aluminium prices at their highest for a decade, having risen 50% over the past year, Doumbouya quickly assured the markets that the overthrow would not disrupt his country's exports of bauxite (AC Vol 62 No 8, Human rights, export rights). Guinea is Africa's biggest producer of the mineral and one of the top suppliers to Chinese industry.
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