West Africa bloc ECOWAS meets over Guinea coup

TOPSHOT - A sun-glasses seller walks past a billboard showing junta leader, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, in Conakry on September 11, 2021. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

ACCRA: Leaders from the western African bloc ECOWAS were meeting on Thursday to decide on measures to bring Guinea back to constitutional rule after troops ousted President Alpha Conde in a coup this month.

The 15-member regional group already suspended Guinea after Conde's ouster on Sept. 5 by a special forces commander who captured the president and declared a political transition.

ECOWAS sent a mission to Guinea last week to meet with coup leader Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya and on Thursday will review the mission's report and decide on next steps.

"We are required to take informed decisions on these matters," Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also the current chair of ECOWAS, said opening the summit. "I count on your excellencies to help proffer durable solutions to the crisis."

Ghana's Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said on Wednesday the coup leaders were probably still not in a position to decide on a timetable for a return to democratic rule.

But the ECOWAS heads of state will take decisions on what they want to see over the next months for progress in Guinea, she said.

"I am not saying that sanctions will be applied but that may happen," Botchwey said.

"The heads of state will... consider the totality of the situation and then come up with decisions on what they will do... to put pressure on the coup makers, the military, to return their country back to constitutional rule."

Under intense diplomatic pressure, Guinea's military junta this week started closed-door meetings with civil society leaders intended to map out a return to civilian government.

Guinea's military rebellion has fuelled international concerns over democratic backsliding across west Africa and drawn parallels with Mali, which suffered two coups since August last year.

ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on Mali last year, but lifted them after the country's ruling military committed to restoring civilian rule.

Conde had come under increasing pressure for what critics say was Guinea's slide into authoritarianism, with dozens of opposition activists detained after a disputed election.

The country's political opposition maintained that last year's ballot was a sham.

The Guinean leader pushed through a new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020, sparking mass demonstrations with dozens of protesters killed.





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