Guinean civil society invite ECOWAS to reconsider its demands regarding September 5 coup as current chairman of regional bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Akufo-Addo heads a delegation to mediate the political crisis following the coup.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo arrived at Conakry airport and was received by Guinea coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya on Friday.
The bloc had imposed sanctions on Guinea’s coup leaders and called for elections in six months in a demand for a quick return to civilian rule, a request deemed inappropriate by some activists.
“Where was ECOWAS when Alpha Conde was changing the Constitution? Where was ECOWAS when Alpha Conde wanted to run for a third term? Where was ECOWAS when the people of Guinea were suffering injustice, inequality, where was ECOWAS?” lamented Ibrahima Sory Mara, activist.
“West African institutions cannot afford to set a timetable for Guinea’s transition. While Guinea is a sovereign country, we are able to set our own course. We cannot hold an election in six months. Imagine, Guinea has just had an election and we know very well how elections go in Guinea” said Youssouf Kanté, another protester.
Guinea’s junta leaders had earlier vowed Friday that deposed President Alpha Conde would not be allowed to seek exile, saying they would not cave to mounting pressure from regional mediators who have imposed targeted sanctions after this month’s coup.
– ECOWAS intervention –
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara touched down in the capital Conakry and proceeded to the Sheraton hotel, according to journalists who saw them.
The west African leaders arrived in Guinea to meet the junta on Friday, after regional bloc ECOWAS urged swift polls to restore civilian rule following a coup earlier this month.
Shortly afterwards, coup leader Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya arrived at the hotel in an armoured car, flanked by masked soldiers toting automatic rifles.
The meeting comes after an ECOWAS summit on Thursday that ramped up pressure on Guinea’s putschists, who ousted president Alpha Conde on September 5.
Leaders from the west Africa bloc called for the junta to hold elections within six months. They also imposed a travel ban on junta members, and froze their financial assets.
“The summit asked me to come and discuss its conclusions with the leadership,” Akufo-Addo told reporters outside Conakry’s Sheraton hotel.
Guinea’s putsch has fuelled international concerns over democratic backsliding across west Africa and drawn parallels with Mali, which suffered two coups since August last year.
Doumbouya has not yet responded to the call for elections from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This week, he held meetings over several days with political and civil-society figures, in talks intended to pave a return to civilian rule.
But Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, has so far refused to commit to a timetable.
“The only timetable that counts is that of the Guinean people who have suffered so much,” he told political leaders in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
Guinea is a poor nation of 13 million people, which has suffered three coups since independence from France in 1958.
The country has some of the world’s largest reserves of bauxite — the ore used to make aluminium — as well as rich deposits of iron, gold and diamonds.