2008 Guinean coup d'état was a Guinean military coup d'état that occurred in Guinea on 23
December 2008, shortly after the death of long-time President
called the National Council
for Democracy and Development
(Conseil National de la
Démocratie et du Development
, CNDD), headed by Captain
Moussa Dadis Camara
power and announced that it planned to rule the country for two
years prior to a new presidential election.
Death of Conté
The coup took place just hours after
the death of Lansana Conté.
In the early hours of 23 December 2008, Aboubacar Somparé
, the President
of the National Assembly
, announced on
television that Conté had died at 6:45 pm local time the previous
day "after a long illness." While Somparé did not name the
particular illness, sources reported that Conté had chronic
. According to the Constitution, the
President of the National Assembly is to assume the Presidency in
the event of a vacancy, and a new presidential election is to be
held within 60 days. Somparé requested that the President of the
Supreme Court, Lamine Sidimé
declare a vacancy in the Presidency and apply the Constitution.
Ahmed Tidiane Souaré
General Diarra Camara, the head of the army
, stood alongside Somparé during his
announcement. Declaring 40 days of national mourning for Conté,
Souaré urged "calm and restraint". He told the army to secure the
borders and maintain calm within the country "in homage to the
memory of the illustrious late leader".
Government officials met at the People's Palace, seat of the
National Assembly, in the early hours of 23 December. Prime
Minister Souaré, Somparé, the President of the Supreme Court, and
military leaders were present.
Speaking to Radio France
after Conté's death, opposition leader Jean-Marie Doré
of the Union for the Progress of
stressed that the institutions of state must "be able to
work to prevent unnecessary disorder in Guinea which would add to
the current difficult situation".
Announcement of coup d'état
Six hours after Somparé announced Conté's death, a statement was
read on state radio announcing a military coup d'état
. This statement, read by
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara
behalf of a group called the National Council for Democracy and
Development (CNDD), said that "the government and the institutions
of the Republic have been dissolved." The statement also announced
the suspension of the constitution "as well as political and union
activity." According to Captain Camara, the coup was necessary due
to Guinea's "deep despair" amidst rampant poverty and corruption,
and he said that the existing institutions were "incapable of
resolving the crises which have been confronting the country."
Furthermore, Camara said that someone from the military would
become President, while a civilian would be appointed as Prime
Minister at the head of a new government that would be ethnically
balanced. The National Council for Democracy and Development would,
according to Camara, include 26 officers as well as six
from Conakry at the time
of the coup announcement, Alhassan Sillah of the BBC said that the situation in the city was "unusually
quiet" and that he had not seen any soldiers.
Later in the
day, several tanks were seen in the city.
Following Camara's announcement, Souaré said the government and
state institutions were intact. According to Souaré, he did not
know who was behind the coup attempt, but he said that he was "sure
that they will see reason. They have not used force. There has been
no threat against anybody." Somparé, meanwhile, called the coup
attempt "a setback for our country" and expressed hope that it
would not succeed. He argued that most soldiers were still loyal to
It was reported that soldiers at the Alfa Yaya Diallo military camp
had chosen a lieutenant-colonel, Sékouba Konaté
, as leader of the
coup attempt, although some soldiers objected because they believed
a higher-ranking officer should have been chosen. The chief of the
armed forces, General Diarra Camara, said that the coup plotters
represented only a minority of the army. In the afternoon of 23
December, amidst confusion about who was in control of the country,
Gen. Camara asked that the soldiers "at least wait until after
[Conté's] funeral", while also stating that he was not trying to
prevent anyone's ambitions.
On 23 December, both the office of the Prime Minister and the
Little Palace, Conté's former residence, were reported to be under
the control of the coup leaders. According to Somparé, the leaders
of the coup held a meeting to choose an interim leader for the
country late on 23 December; he said that Moussa Camara, Sékouba
Konaté, and Toto Camara were considered candidates for the
position. The composition of the CNDD was announced late on 23
December; it included 32 members, 26 of whom were officers and six
of whom were civilians.
In an interview with Guineenews
December, opposition leader Cellou
said that he believed the constitution should be
respected, while also saying that he believed a new presidential
election should be held together with the already planned parliamentary election
on 31 May 2009.
Consolidation of CNDD authority
A statement was read over the radio on 24 December announcing that
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was the President of the CNDD. Later in
the day, Camara and thousands of soldiers loyal to him paraded
through the city, surrounded by large numbers of civilian
supporters. According to Camara, he "came to see if the terrain is
favorable to us", declaring that the large crowds indicated that
the people were indeed supportive of the coup. Also on 24 December,
Camara said in a radio broadcast that the CNDD did not want to stay
in power indefinitely and that it intended to lead the country for
two years, promising "credible and transparent presidential
elections by the end of December 2010". This contradicted an
earlier statement promising an election within the constitutionally
mandated period of 60 days.
The CNDD declared an 8 pm to 6:30 am nation-wide curfew, although
it said that the curfew would not be implemented until 26 December
to avoid interfering with the Christian celebration of Christmas.
The extent of the CNDD's control remained unclear on 24 December;
although Prime Minister Souaré had gone into hiding, he insisted
that the government had not been toppled. Souaré described Camara
as "an unknown captain [who] doesn't control the army" and argued
again that most troops were loyal, while attributing the "disorder"
to "one little group".
Shortly after the CNDD ordered all members of the government and
army officers to go to the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp within
24 hours, with the threat of "a sweep of the entire national
territory" if they did not. Prime Minister Souaré went to the camp
and turned himself in on 25 December, together with all the members
of his government except for two ministers who were, according to
Souaré, on official missions abroad. Camara met with Souaré and
stressed that the CNDD was now in power, but he said that Souaré
and his government could "go back to business". During the meeting,
Souaré lamented the death of Conté and expressed his government's
willingness to serve under the CNDD, pointing out that his
government was composed of technocrats
, not politicians. He
also addressed Camara as "President".
Speaking on the radio on 25 December, Camara said that he did not
plan to run for President at the end of the two year transitional
period. He also declared that the CNDD was not susceptible to
bribes. According to Camara, people had "start[ed] to show up with
bags of money to try to corrupt us. They've tried to give money to
our wives and cars to our children." He warned that he would
"personally go after anyone who tries to corrupt us". Camara also
said that Conté's funeral on 26 December (several days late) would
be "grandiose", and he expressed disapproval in describing the lack
of proper care for Conté's body.
Conté's funeral was held on 26 December, with over 20,000 in
attendance at the national stadium in Conakry. Leaders of
neighboring countries were present for the funeral, although Camara
was not. General Mamadouba Toto Camara of the CNDD said at the
funeral that "we pray God to give us the courage to continue
[Conté's] work of tolerance and peace for the welfare of Guinea".
He was then taken to his hometown of Moussayah
Camara held a large "informational meeting" at the Alfa Yaya Diallo
military base on 27 December; about 1,000 people representing
various groups were present, including Somparé, the key opposition
leaders Alpha Condé
and Sidya Touré
, and the trade union leader
Rabiatou Serah Diallo
. At the
meeting, Camara discussed his plans to renegotiate mining contracts
and fight corruption. He said that all gold mining had already been
halted for the time being. Camara also told the opposition and
union leaders that they could propose a Prime Minister. Condé said
on that occasion that the members of the CNDD junta were
"patriots", and his party, the Rally of the Guinean People
(RPG), subsequently expressed its willingness to participate in a
government under the CNDD. Sidya Touré gave a positive assessment
of the situation and said that "we will discuss the program and
timetable for the transition and we will ensure that the military
keep their promises."
Although the CNDD's curfew was enforced on 26 December, the junta
decided to lift the curfew beginning on 27 December in order to
encourage "a climate of peace". At around the same time, AFP
reported the retirement of 22
senior military officers who had reached retirement age. The
retired officers included General Diarra Camara, the army's chief
of staff, who opposed the coup.
Two officers were appointed to key positions on 28 December: Captain Kelety Faro as Minister Secretary-General at the Presidency and General Mamadouba Toto Camara as Minister of Security and Civil Protection. Also, Sékouba Konaté was appointed as Minister of Defense.
On 29 December, soldiers forcefully entered the compound of
—a wealthy businessman
who had been an ally and close personal friend of Lansana Conté—and
told Sylla to relinquish the keys to six SUV
vehicles that they said were owned by the state. Sylla did so, but
he complained that force was not necessary and said that the
vehicles had been part of a contract between his company and the
appointed Kabine Komara, a banker
working in Egypt at the
Bank, as Prime Minister on 30 December 2008.
television speech on 1 January 2009, Camara said that the coup had
prevented Guinea from "tumbling into ethnic warfare". According to
Camara, Somparé was not a legitimate constitutional successor
because his mandate as President of the National Assembly had
legally expired, and he said that if Somparé had taken office,
there would have been "incalculable consequences".
About 20 soldiers searched the home of opposition leader and former
Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo on 1 January, while holding
Diallo and his family at gunpoint. According to Diallo, the search
was based on suspicions that Diallo had weapons and mercenaries and
was planning another coup, but he said that the soldiers did not
take anything from his home. A junta delegation met with Diallo on
2 January and condemned the search, saying that "uncontrollable
elements out to hurt the junta" were to blame and that Camara and
the CNDD had nothing to do with it.
On 5 January 2009, Camara stated that both legislative
and presidential elections
would be held by the end of 2009, a year earlier than originally
Camara, acting on the recommendation of Prime Minister Komara,
appointed a new government on 14 January 2009. The government was
composed of soldiers and technocrats and did not include any
political parties. The government included 27 ministers and two
secretaries of state.
Colonel Aboubacar Sidiki
was sworn in as Permanent Secretary to the CNDD on 26
January 2009.Contrary to the wishes of CNDD President Camara, he
was unwilling to postpone his swearing in, and he also requested
the release of officers who were closely associated with Conté. He
was promptly arrested later on 26 January; CNDD member Biro Condé
was also reportedly arrested at
that time. CNDD President Camara said on 27 January that Aboubacar
Sidiki Camara had been dismissed from his post as Permanent
Secretary due to negligence. He was released from detention on 28
- The African Union will hold an
emergency meeting over the situation. Peace and Security
Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said, "If the army coup is confirmed,
it is a flagrant violation of the constitution and of African
legality which absolutely forbids unconstitutional changes of
government". On 29 December 2008, the AU suspended Guinea from the
organization "until the return of constitutional order in that
country", and it demanded that constitutional government be
restored within six months.
- Canada "strongly
condemns the attempted coup in Guinea and calls on all parties to
fully respect the Constitution and the rule of law for the benefit
of the people of Guinea, who have already suffered for too long"
and "...appeals for calm and restraint."
Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) initially warned that Guinea could be
suspended from the organization if the military took power.
Later in December, ECOWAS said that it could not tolerate coups and
it urged that the junta's planned transition be shorter than two
- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, noting Conté's
contribution to peace and the unity of Guinea and the stability of
West Africa, commended Guinea's aid to refugees from strife in the
surrounding region. He appealed for calm, for an orderly transition
under Guinea's Constitution, and exhorted the Guinean armed forces
to respect democracy.
- The European Union condemned the
coup and has called on Guinea's military and government to ensure a
peaceful leadership transition. The EU called on political and army
leaders to "respect constitutional measures to ensure a peaceful
transition" of power through elections.
- Senegal's President
Abdoulaye Wade urged the
international community to recognise the military junta headed by
Moussa Dadis Camara. According to Wade, Camara had asked him to be
his spokesman to the world, and Wade said that "I call on all
countries, the European Union, and in particular France, not to
throw the first stone, but to take this group at their word" and
that the "captain asked me to be his interpreter to Guineans, to
the opposition, to ECOWAS, to the African Union, the European
Union, the United States, the World Bank
and international institutions". Wade also supported the
promised elections and said that "This is the first time that the
military has said, 'We'll organise elections and return to our
States expressed hope for "a peaceful and democratic
transition". A spokesperson said "We are working with our
partners in the region and other countries in the region and the
African Union to encourage the institutions in Guinea to take all
steps to ensure a peaceful and democratic transition".
January 5, 2009 Foreign Minister Ojo
Maduekwe warned that Nigeria would have
no relations with the military regime and that any other African
Union member who recognized the coup's leaders as the government
would be neglecting the organization's commitment to
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présidence et un ministre de la Sécurité !", Guineenews, 28
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