After the coup, Guineans celebrate ‘freedom’ with a mixture of ‘hope and concern’

A group of soldiers from the Guinean army special forces unit led a riot on Sunday 5 September, arresting Guinean President Alpha Condé and announcing the “dissolution” of the country’s constitution and government. The day after the coup, the news of which was greeted with jubilant scenes in the streets of the capital, Conakry, the country seemed to have returned to calm. Our Observers in Guinea, however, remain cautious. They told us about their fears for the future of the country.

‘It’s over, Guinea is free!’

The soldiers were greeted in the streets of Conakry on September 5 by thousands of people celebrating the coup, relieved to finally see the end of 11 years of political instability and violence under the Alpha Condé government.

This tweet reads: ‘Scenes of jubilation in Conakry.’

That morning, after prolonged gunfire was heard in Conakry’s Kaloum neighborhood, soldiers shared images on social media of Alpha Condé in captivity. His arrest was made official early in the afternoon with an announcement on the Guinean national television station RTG by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, head of the special forces unit. He declared the dissolution of the country’s constitution.

🇬🇳 #Guinee Le colonel Mamady #Doumbouya, commandant des forces spéciales de l’armée guinéenne, an annoncé delivered on September 5 to the radio-television nationale RTG, avoir arrêté le président # AlphaCondé et suspendu la Constitution. #RFImatin 👇 (images © AP) pic.twitter.com/DuoqjgS9En

– RFI (@RFI) September 6, 2021 This tweet from RFI, FRANCE 24’s sister organization, reads: ‘Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, commander of special forces in the Guinean army, announced on the radio and television channel national RTG on September 5 that had arrested President Alpha Condé and suspended the Constitution.

“There have been too many deaths for nothing,” he said, referring to protests against the new Guinean constitution, which were violently repressed. The new Constitution was established by the Condé government in April 2020 and would have allowed him to remain in power for a third term.

‘We are going to dissolve the institutions. Our government is now dissolved, ‘continued Doumbouya. He also promised to enact an “inclusive transition.”

>> READ ABOUT THE OBSERVERS: Did the Guinean police shoot the protesters?

“We still don’t know what the soldiers want.”

On September 6, Guinea reopened its borders and the military summoned former government ministers and directors of different Conakry institutions, who were later prohibited from leaving the country. Our Observer Thierno Diallo, member of the Association of Bloggers of Guinea (Ablogui), was in front of the People’s Palace where the meeting took place.

There was a huge crowd. When I arrived, the building was cordoned off; even when I showed my press card, I couldn’t get in. Soldiers came around the building and the crowd cheered.

Now, the traffic is back to normal. Some stores have started to open again. During the day, things will gradually start to return to normal. I also noticed, and I think it is symbolic, that there are no longer guards at the roundabouts on Le Prince Street, which is where protests always took place. There are fewer soldiers everywhere than I imagined. Perhaps they are trying to reassure the population because they have understood that there will be no resistance.

All of this shows that even if we have no idea what will happen next, this is something that people were waiting for. We just have to wait and see what will happen now. Everyone hopes this time will be better.

Personally, I think it is too difficult to analyze things as they are. The country was going bad: the country was blocked, the economic situation was very bad, so somehow we were waiting for something like this to happen. But we are trying to stay cautious. We still don’t know what they want and we don’t know what their plan is.

On the Le Prince road, which runs between Bambeto and Hamdallaye in the commune of Ratoma, our Observer Thierno Diallo was surprised by the lack of soldiers on the road.

“For now, I am torn between hope and concern.”

In Labé, in the north of the country, our Observer Sally Bilaly Sow, a member of the AfricTivistes blogger network, had a similar reaction to the events.

Yesterday was a big surprise for the Guineans. There had been a sense of hopelessness and a desire for change after President Alpha Condé took office on October 18 of last year. [his election to a third term]. And now everything has changed in one go. We understood a little better what was happening throughout the day. We could call this coup Coup 2.0, because the soldiers resorted to courier services to inform the public of what was happening before using traditional media. The photos were shared for the first time in WhatsApp groups and that is how we found out what was happening.

There were great scenes of jubilation in Labe, well into the night. When I asked some young people why they were partying, they told me: “We don’t like coups, but if it takes a coup to free us from this regime that has gagged, murdered and impoverished us, then we hope that the soldiers keep their promises ”.

Sous l’acclamation du public, les mutins ont installé leurs hommes à la préfecture et au gouvernorat de Labe. #Guinee #Kibaro #kaloum pic.twitter.com/sJqErzkSKV

– Sally Bilaly SOW ™ 🇬🇳 (@sbskalan) September 6, 2021 This tweet reads: ‘With the approval of the crowd, the soldiers took control of the city hall and local government in Labé.

“We have to stand guard and watch the soldiers”

Nobody could believe it: the FNDC fight was unsuccessful [the FNDC is a civil protest movement that launched the demonstrations against Condé’s new constitution allowing him to seek election for a third term]. There were hundreds of deaths.

For now, I am torn between hope and concern. First of all, hope: I read all the statements of the soldiers and they are already talking about an inclusive transition and writing a new Constitution, perhaps even bringing back the Constitution of 2010, but also and above all, they are asking for dialogue and the diaspora of the country to help rebuild a new state. They are good signs.

But there is also concern: how everything is going to go, how citizens will feel, we must not forget the sectors of civil society that were already fighting against the prospect of a third term. They have to participate. We have to stand guard and keep an eye on these soldiers. We have to remember what they promised and make sure they deliver. We cannot create another dictator.

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