TOPLINE A special forces unit of the Guinea Armed Forces ousted the country’s long-serving President Alpha Conde on Sunday in an apparent coup, causing global aluminum prices to soar over fears that the unrest in the West African nation could impact the supply of a raw material, bauxite, which is needed to make the metal.
The military unit which claims to have seized power announced that they have dissolved Guinea’s government, its constitution and closed its land and air borders.
The new military rulers have imposed a nationwide curfew “until further notice” and have said they plan to convene a meeting of Conde’s cabinet later on Monday.
Unrest in the world’s third-largest producer of bauxite has pushed aluminum prices to the highest level in over a decade.
Prices of the metal in the London Metal Exchange climbed by 1.8% on Monday to $2775.50 per ton—the highest it has been since May 2011.
In China, the aluminum futures jumped up nearly 3.5% to around $3,400 (CNY 21,970)—the highest it has been since 2006—before leveling off at around 2.3%.
Following the announcement of the coup, the U.S. State Department issued a statement in which it said: “The United States condemns today’s events in Conakry… We urge all parties to forego violence and any efforts not supported by the Constitution and stand by the rule of law.”
64 million metric tonnes. That’s the amount of bauxite that Guinea produced in 2019 putting it third in the world behind Australia and China in terms of annual production. The country also holds the largest reserve of the aluminum ore in the world at 40 billion tons.
Despite worldwide condemnation, the coup reportedly sparked celebrations in some quarters of the nation’s capital Conakry. Last year, the ousted president Conde secured a third term in an election that was marred by violent protests, claims of fraud, and controversy over changes to the country’s constitution to remove a two-term presidential limit. His return to power had sparked demonstrations in parts of the country which led to several deaths and hundreds of arrests. One Western diplomat told AFP that Sunday’s coup may have been sparked by the Conde government’s decision to dismiss a senior commander in the special forces—sparking a rebellion from some of the members of its group.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff