Four months after his ouster, Guinea’s former president Alpha Conde has had his first taste of freedom after leaving the country.
According to the government, Conde was allowed to leave Guinea for medical treatment.
Conde was overthrown last September by a group of special forces soldiers led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya, who has since declared himself transition president.
Despite repeated demands and sanction by the West African regional bloc Ecowas, the junta refused to release him.
He was held for some time and later placed under house arrest since he was released to go to his home in the capital Conakry in November.
About two weeks ago, the junta confirmed that it had granted a request by his family and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to evacuate him for medical treatment.
There has been no word about the nature of his illness.
On Monday, an image released by the junta showed Conde, dressed in a black suit and flanked by two bodyguards, shortly before boarding his flight at the newly renamed Ahmed Sékou Touré International Airport in Conakry. One of his bodyguards held a briefcase.
A second image showed the former president seated in the special flight, looking desolate.
Reports indicate that he was headed for the United Arab Emirates.
Authorities said the 83-year-old former president was given the option of identifying his choice of destination for treatment.
Conde’s departure has been met with mixed reactions in Guinea.
While some welcomed it, others are concerned that it could be the start of a life in exile. Those who are unhappy about him leaving want to see him face trial for his alleged crimes.
Conde was elected in 2010 in Guinea’s first democratic elections. He was re-elected in 2018 in a disputed poll.
He controversially changed the Constitution to allow him run for a third term, a decision that sparked weeks of protests resulting in deaths and destruction of property.