Heavy gunfire echoed around the capital of Guinea early on Sunday and pictures surfaced on social media of the West African country’s president being held in custody by men in military fatigues, the New York Times reported.
It was later followed by the head of Guinea’s special forces announcing on state television that the constitution, government and all institutions were dissolved. He had staged a coup.
“The whole army is here, from Nzérékoré to Conakry, to help build this country,” declared Col. Mamady Doumbouya, the special forces head, when he appeared on state television.
He also confirmed that the president was being held by his men. “The president is with us, he’s in a safe place. He’s seen a doctor, there’s no problem.”
The soldiers said they have dissolved the constitution and the government, claiming to restore democracy in the country.
“The duty of a soldier is to save the country,” said Doumbouya, who sat draped in a Guinean flag flanked by six other soldiers in uniform.
Unverified videos shared on social media appeared to show President Alpha Conde surrounded by soldiers as his whereabouts remained unclear.
The turn of events has drawn concern and condemnation from regional and international observers.
The United Nations (U.N) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has strongly condemned the staged coup directing for the immediate release of the President.
The soldiers also said they would convene President Conde’s cabinet ministers and other top officials in Conakry to discuss the way forward.
The mutinous soldiers said they were acting in the best interests of the nation of more than 12.7 million people.
Doumbouya, who has headed a special forces unit in the military, cited slow economic growth since Guinea’s independence from France in 1958.
Additional content by The New York Times