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The Guinean coup chief guarantees the nationwide authorities that politicians shall be arrested

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© Reuters. Guinea Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Defense Minister Mohamed Diane and other members of the government gather for a meeting with special forces commander Mamady Doumbouya, who overthrew President Alpha Conde in Conakry, Guinea on September 6, 2021.

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From Saliou Samb

CONAKRY (Reuters) – The leaders of a military coup in Guinea on Monday promised to set up a transitional government of national unity after the overthrow of President Alpha Conde and the dissolution of his cabinet.

Sunday's coup, in which Conde and other top politicians were arrested or banned from the trip, is the third since April in West and Central Africa and raises concerns about a relapse to military rule in a region that has since made progress towards multi-party democracy the 1990s.

The takeover was widely condemned by international powers and put pressure on the new military leaders to propose a plan beyond overthrowing the old order and reassuring investors that Guinea's significant mineral exports would not be curtailed.

"A consultation will be held to define the main framework for the transition, then a national unity government will be set up to lead the transition," said coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire officer, at a meeting of Conde ministers and senior government officials .

"At the end of this transition period, we will set the tone for a new era of governance and economic development," he said, flanked by armed soldiers in red berets.

Doumbouya did not say what the transition would entail, nor did he give a date for the return to democratic elections.

His seizure of power was aided by widespread dissatisfaction with Conde, 83, who promised stable democracy but, after taking power, violently silenced his opponents, did not reduce poverty, and decided last year to run for a third term – a Step that many believed was illegal.

The coup was welcomed by many, but it terrified the mining sector. Guinea has the world's largest reserves of bauxite, an ore used to make aluminum. The metal's prices shot to a 10-year high on Monday despite no signs of delivery disruptions.

To allay fears, Doumbouya said the sea borders would remain open so mining products could be exported. A night curfew now in effect does not apply to the mining sector, he said.

"I can assure business and economic partners that activities in the country will continue normally. We ask the mining companies to continue their activities," he said.

POLITICIAN ARRESTED

Light traffic has resumed and some shops have reopened around the Kaloum administrative district in Conakry, where heavy shots were fired all Sunday as the special forces fought against soldiers loyal to Conde. The land and air borders have also been reopened, said a military spokesman on television.

Still, crackdown was evident. Doumbouya banned government officials from leaving the country and ordered them to hand over their official vehicles.

The politicians who attended Monday's meeting were later escorted by soldiers in red berets through a sneering crowd to the Army Unit Headquarters in Conakry.

Two diplomatic sources said Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Minister for Presidential Affairs Mohamed Diané and National Assembly Speaker Amadou Damaro Camara had been arrested.

Amnesty International issued a statement Monday calling on the coup plotters to clarify the legal basis for Conde's imprisonment and to release those whom Conde had arbitrarily detained in the months surrounding last year's election.

However, regional experts say that in contrast to landlocked Mali, where neighbors and partners there were able to put pressure on a junta after a coup in August 2020, influence over the military in Guinea could be limited as it is neither a landlock nor a member from the West African Monetary Union.

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