A Guinean army colonel dominated the state television broadcasts today and announced the dissolution of President Alpha Condé’s government, hours after heavy gunfire near the presidential palace.
Conde’s whereabouts were not immediately known, and Colonel Mamadi Dumboya did not mention the 83-year-old president, whose popularity has plummeted since he sought a third term last year.
“The personalization of political life is over.
“We will no longer entrust politics to one man, we entrust it to the people,” the colonel said, adding that the constitution has also been dissolved and the land borders are now closed.
Domboya, who headed a special forces unit in the army, said he was working for the good of the nation of more than 12.7 million people.
The colonel said that not enough economic progress had been made since independence from France in 1958.
“If you see the state of our roads, if you see the state of our hospitals, you realize that after 72 years, it is time to wake up,” he said.
“We have to wake up. The duty of a soldier is to save the country,” he said.
Heavy gunfire broke out early in the day near the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry, and lasted for hours, raising fears of a coup attempt.
The Defense Ministry later claimed that the attack was repelled, but the mystery increased when there was no mention of Conde on state television or radio.
Conde has faced mounting criticism since he sought a third term in office last year, saying the two-term limit did not apply to him due to the constitutional referendum he put forward.
He was eventually re-elected, but the move sparked violent street demonstrations during which the opposition said dozens were killed.
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He came to power in 2010 in the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France. Many saw his presidency as a new beginning for the country, which had been mired in decades of corrupt authoritarian rule.
However, his opponents say it has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s vast mineral wealth.
In 2011, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after armed men surrounded his house overnight and bombed his bedroom with missiles.
Rockets fell inside the compound and one of its guards was killed.
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