Special Forces Colonel Stages Coup in Guinea

The head of Guinea’s special forces appeared on state television on Sunday and announced the suspension of the West African country’s Constitution after a morning of heavy gunfire and reports of a coup in the capital, Conakry.

The move comes barely a year after the president, Alpha Condé, won a contentious third term after changing the Constitution, effectively resetting the clock to zero for Mr. Conde and allowing him to stay in power beyond the two-term limit.

And it happened in a country that has experience with coups — in 1984 and in 2008 — before Mr. Condé became the country’s first democratically elected leader. His government turned Guinea into a major exporter of bauxite, which is used to produce aluminum, but human rights groups say that mining companies have upended the lives and livelihoods of rural communities.

The head of the special forces, Mamady Doumbouya, said Sunday on state television, “We have decided, from now on, to dissolve the Constitution.” He appeared with Guinea’s national flag draped around his shoulders and members of the military surrounding him. He said that he was acting in response to the people’s will.

On social media, videos circulated of Mr. Condé apparently under heavy guard, his clothes in slight disarray.

Other video showed Guineans taking to the streets in celebration and military vehicles moving down Conakry’s streets, accompanied by dozens of motorcycles, their riders raising fists in the air.

Colonel Doumbouya is a former member of the French Foreign Legion, who, according to videos posted online by Guinean news media, received training at Flintlock, the U.S. military’s biggest annual exercise in Africa.

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