Guinea in turmoil as putschists claim coup

Conakry (Guinea): Turmoil engulfed the impoverished west African nation of Guinea again on Sunday as army putschists said they had captured the president and staged a coup, and the government insisted it has repelled the attack.

"We have decided, after having taken the president, to dissolve the constitution," said a uniformed officer flanked by soldiers toting assault rifles in a video sent to AFP.

The officer also said that Guinea's land and air borders have been shut and the government dissolved.

But the situation remained unclear as Conde's government also released a statement saying that an attack on the presidential palace by special forces had been "repulsed".

Guinea -- one of the world's poorest countries despite boasting significant mineral resources -- has long been beset by political instability.

Earlier on Sunday, residents of the capital Conakry's Kaloum district, the government quarter, reported hearing heavy gunfire.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for their safety, they reported seeing a number of soldiers on the streets who called on residents to return to their homes and stay there. A Western diplomat in Conakry, who also declined to be named, said the unrest started after the dismissal of a senior commander in the special forces -- provoking some of its highly trained members to rebel and occupy the presidential palace.

AFP was unable to independently confirm this account.

The officer in the putsch video released later on Sunday, wearing sunglasses and a red beret, said that the army had taken action because of government dysfunction, corruption and "the trampling of citizens' rights," among other reasons. The apparent coup comes amid a long period of political tension in Guinea, first spurred by Conde's highly contested bid for a third presidential term last year.

Next Story
Share it