As the soldiers who seized power consolidate their takeover, Guinea’s main opposition leader said on Tuesday he was open to participating in a transition. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatened sanctions following the overthrow of President Alpha Conde, who was serving a third term after altering the constitution to permit it.
His opponents said the constitutional change was illegal and frustration boiled over into deadly protests last year. Eighty political prisoners detained by Conde’s government, including a number who had campaigned against his third term, were released on Tuesday evening, said Hamidou Barry of the Guinean Organization of Human Rights, and according to a REUTERS report.
Regional leaders will meet to discuss Guinea on Wednesday – not Thursday, as suggested in a previous staff memo.
Mamady Doumbouya, leader of the coup and a former officer in the French Foreign Legion, has promised a transitional government of national unity and a “new era for governance and economic development”. But he has not yet explained exactly what this will entail, or given a timeframe.
Guinea’s main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, told Reuters on Tuesday he had not yet been consulted about the transition but was ready to participate.
“We would send representatives, why not, to participate in the process to bring the country back to constitutional order,” said Diallo, a former prime minister who finished runner-up to Conde in three successive elections, most recently last October.
Sunday’s uprising, in which Conde and other top politicians were detained or barred from travelling, is the third since April in West and Central Africa, raising concerns about a slide back to military rule in a region that had made strides towards multi-party democracy since the 1990s.
Conakry was calm for a second day after the putsch, with some military checkpoints removed. Traffic was normal on Tuesday in the capital’s administrative centre, the Kaloum peninsula.
The coup raised concerns about supplies of bauxite, the main aluminium ore, from Guinea, a leading producer. The benchmark aluminium contract on the London Metal Exchange remained near a 10-year high on Monday. Mines have not reported any disruption. State-run Chinese aluminium producer Chalco’s bauxite project in Guinea said it was operating normally.
The Kremlin said it was closely following the political situation and that it hoped Russian business interests, which include three major bauxite mines and one alumina refinery, would not suffer.