Guinea military consolidates takeover, opposition leader signals openness to transition

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Guinea’s main opposition leader says he is open to participating in a transition following a military coup over the weekend, as the soldiers who seized consolidated their takeover.

West African countries have threatened sanctions following the overthrow of President Alpha Conde, who was serving a third term after altering the constitution to permit it.

His opponents said the change was illegal and frustration boiled over into deadly protests last year.

Eighty political prisoners detained by Conde’s government, including a who had campaigned against his third term, were released on Tuesday evening, said Hamidou Barry of the Guinean Organisation of Human Rights.

Regional will meet to discuss Guinea on Wednesday – not Thursday, as suggested in a previous staff memo.

Coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former officer in the French Foreign Legion, has promised a transitional government of national unity and a “new era for governance and economic development”.

But he has not yet explained exactly what this will entail, or given a timeframe.

Guinea’s main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, told Reuters on Tuesday that he had not yet been consulted about the transition but was ready to participate.

“We would send representatives, why not, to in the process to bring the country back to constitutional order,” said Diallo, a former prime minister who finished runner-up to Conde in three successive elections, most recently last October.

Sunday’s uprising, in which Conde and other top politicians were detained or barred from travelling, is the third since April in West and Central Africa, raising concerns about a slide back to military rule in a that had made strides towards multi-party democracy since the 1990s.

Conakry was calm for a second day after the putsch, with some military checkpoints removed. Traffic was normal on Tuesday in the capital’s administrative centre, the Kaloum peninsula.

Moving to consolidate their power, the soldiers that led the coup have installed officers at the top of Guinea’s eight regions and various administrative districts.

The coup raised concerns about supplies of bauxite, the main aluminium ore, from Guinea, a leading producer.

The benchmark aluminium contract on the London Metal Exchange remained near a 10-year high on Monday.

However, mines have not reported any disruption. State-run Chinese aluminium producer Chalco’s (601600), bauxite project in Guinea said was operating normally.

The Australian-listed bauxite and gold exploration firms Lindian Resources (LIN.AX) and Polymetals Resources (POLAX) also said on Tuesday that their activities were unaffected.