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China’s embassy in Guinea issued security warnings to its nationals in the West African country after special forces claimed to have seized power over the government in an apparent coup.
The Chinese mission called on its citizens in the country to be vigilant after gunfire broke out in the capital Conakry early on Sunday and soldiers claimed on state television they would rewrite the constitution and dissolve the government.
“The Chinese embassy once again reminds Chinese citizens in Guinea to remain calm, temporarily refrain from going outside, pay attention to the surrounding situation and increase safety measures,” it said on Monday. “Please contact the embassy if there are any emergencies.”
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The elite army unit said it had detained the nation’s longest-serving president, Alpha Condé, and announced it would enact a nationwide curfew and close the country’s borders. While the Guinean defence ministry said it had repelled the takeover from the presidential palace, Condé’s status was not immediately clear.
The events in Guinea have sparked widespread concern in the region and abroad.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a regular briefing on Monday that Beijing opposed the coup and requested the immediate release of Condé.
“We call on all parties to stay calm and restrained and act in the fundamental interests of the Guinean people, using dialogue and consultation to resolve the relevant issues to safeguard domestic peace and stability,” he said.
The Economic Community of West African States – the 15-country bloc in West Africa – threatened it would enact sanctions over the attempted coup. The African Union said it would meet urgently to discuss taking “appropriate measures in the circumstances” and United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned “any takeover of the government by force” in Guinea.
In a statement on Sunday, the US condemned the events in Conakry. It said violence and extra-constitutional measures could “limit the ability of the United States” and others to support the country.
The apparent military coup comes after Condé secured a controversial third term in October, despite a constitutional two-term limit, that sparked violent protests in the country. His main opposition candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallou, alleged fraud in the election results.
Yue Shaowen, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Guinea, told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Monday the mission would closely monitor the situation and promptly publish updates on the embassy’s website and WeChat account.
“At present, the situation in the capital has temporarily stabilised,” he said. “Currently, the situation for China’s institutions and personnel in Guinea is also generally stable, and we have not had any incidence reports.”
China has key investments in the West African nation, including projects under its Belt and Road Initiative and heavy investments in massive iron ore reserves in the country’s Simandou mountains. Chinese companies have invested billions in mineral extraction in the region, including in Guinea, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to meet its heavy demands for machinery and electronics manufacturing.
Additional reporting by Catherine Wong
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