Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call to return home

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Google rivals Amazon with delivery drone tests

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

DEBATE

US-Africa summit: Obama unveils $33 billion US investment plan for Africa

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in an explosive atmosphere

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

Military grab power after president dies

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Priscille LAFITTE

Latest update : 2008-12-24

Within hours of President Lansana Conte's death, the Guinean military claimed it had taken control in a coup - but the situation remains unclear with the government insisting it is still in charge, pointing to divisions within the army's ranks.

Members of the Guinean military attempted to seize power hours after the death of President Lansana Conté, who has ruled the African nation since 1984. But the situation on the ground remained unclear Tuesday night with conflicting reports as to the importance of the rebel movement.

 
 
In a radio announcement on Tuesday, a military commander said the government had been dissolved, along with the country’s key institutions.
 
 
“From today, the Constitution is suspended, as well as all political and union activity,” said Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, reading a communiqué on Radio Conakry. He said a “consulting council” would soon be put in place, “composed of civil and military” representatives.
 
 
The president of the National Assembly, Aboubacar Sompare, confirmed the rebel activity in a telephone interview with FRANCE 24. “There has indeed been an attempted coup,” he said. “But it is still hanging in the balance, for there appear to be different movements within their camp.” Nor is the army united behind the mutineers. “It’s a group. I can’t say how many they are, but in any case the majority of the armed forces remain loyal to the state.”
 
 
Guinea’s armed forces chief meanwhile told FRANCE 24 that they were a minority. “They are not the majority in the army," said General Diarra Camara.
 
 
But Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré insisted on French radio RFI that the government was still in place. “The government has not been dissolved,” he said. “We are currently working on organising the president’s funeral.”
 
 
‘The Constitution is suspended’
 
 
In the event of a president’s death, article 34 of the Constitution confers interim power on the National Assembly. The assembly must then organise elections within 60 days. But that's not what happened.
 
 

Overnight Tuesday, it was Mr Sompare who announced on national television that Conté, 74, had died. Mr Souaré then asked the president of the Supreme Court to acknowledge the power vacuum and apply the measures prescribed in the country’s Constitution.  With the coup attempt, the army took effective control of the situation.

 
 

The mutineers, representing themselves as the “National Council for Democracy and Development” (CNDD), demanded that “government members and all departmental officers” report to the country’s main military camp in Conakry “in order to assure their security”.

 

 

“It remains to be seen which faction of the army, which ethnicity, comes out on top,” says Emmanuel Goujon, AFP correspondent for FRANCE 24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “The army is very divided and President Conté used this division as an instrument of power.”

 

 
FRANCE 24 spoke to Guinean journalist Maseco Condé, who runs the local Temps Info. Describing manoeuvres by the military at the entrance of Conakry, where government buildings are located, Condé said most Guineans “remained in their homes as events unfolded”. He added, “one is never sure what might happen tomorrow.”
 
 
The African Union (AU) was quick to express its concern following the army’s announcement. “We urge the country’s political forces and all state institutions, particularly the military, to work towards guaranteeing a peaceful and constitutional transition that respects the democratic order,” said the AU’s commissioner for peace and security, Ramtane Lamamra.
 
 
‘He speaks on behalf of a group’
 
 
Moussa Dadis Camara, the officer who read the statement on Radio Conakry, is so far known as the man in charge of fuel in the army’s Supply Corps. “There has been no mention of him replacing President Conté. He speaks on behalf of a group,” said Mr Condé. “He spoke of the country’s problems, namely violence and corruption.”
 
 
Indeed, social issues featured prominently in the announcement. Pointing to the country’s “catastrophic economic situation” and “the deep despair of the population”, the military blamed the government for “the embezzlement of public funds, the widespread corruption, the impunity in government, and the anarchy reigning throughout the state machinery.”
 
 
“The government hasn’t been equal to the country’s economic potential,” the former Guinean prime minister and current opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, told FRANCE 24. “The poor governance and the lack of rigour in managing public funds, particularly since 2000, have been the hallmarks of Conté’s regime.”
 
 
 
 
 

Date created : 2008-12-23

COMMENT(S)