Guinean military leaders are set to face more pressure to set a timetable for new elections as they hold four days of meetings on the future of the West African nation after the coup a little more ago one week
Concerns are growing over how quickly the junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya will cede power to a civilian-led transitional government, as demanded by regional mediators and the international community.
The coup was greeted with caution by other longtime opponents of ousted President Alpha Condé, including Guinea’s most prominent opposition figure, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost to the ousted leader. in the last three presidential elections.
Diallo was among the opposition political leaders meeting with the junta on Tuesday at the People’s Palace, which was heavily guarded by armed soldiers. Military leaders also met with religious leaders.
Later in the week, the junta plans to host leaders from Guinea’s mining industry, in a bid to reassure foreign companies working in the most vital sector of the country’s economy.
Anger over Condé’s quest for a third term last year has led to violent street protests, and many residents of the capital, Conakry, have shown support for the military takeover. How long that will last may depend on the agreements reached at this week’s meetings.
After concluding a visit to Conakry on Monday, the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel said he placed “a lot of hope” in this week’s meetings.
“Because whatever the international community says or does, the fate of Guinea is what Guineans themselves will decide,” said Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh.
Diallo, the three-time presidential candidate, has made it clear that he would like to run if new elections are held. In an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, he called the ousted president a dictator who brought about his own demise because of his disregard for constitutional term limits.
The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS has already threatened sanctions unless the junta releases the ousted president, as it did last year when a military coup took place in Neighboring Mali.
“I call on them not to sanction Guinea, but to support the new authorities in the rapid return to constitutional order within a reasonable period of time through the organization of inclusive, free and transparent elections,” he said. Longtime Guinean opposition leader AP.
After the August 2020 coup in Mali, ECOWAS imposed sanctions and proposed a one-year deadline for political transition. The regional mediators subsequently acquiesced to the junta leaders and agreed to an 18-month deadline which now seems questionable as February 2022 approaches.
Nine months after the coup, Colonel Assimi Goita effectively staged another military takeover by sacking the civilian president and prime minister and later declaring himself transitional president.
Guinea and Mali had spent years without military coups, which has led some to believe they might be a thing of the past. Some now fear that, if left unchecked, recent coups in West Africa could encourage the military elsewhere to stage their own takeovers.
Earlier this year, the Chadian military also seized power after the murder of longtime President Idriss Deby Itno, putting his son Mahamat Idriss Deby in charge even though the Chadian constitution provided for power to be transferred to the president of the ‘National Assembly.
Niagale Bagayoko, president of the African Security Sector Network which focuses its research on West and Central Africa, said the threat extends beyond military coups to include presidents who try to change their country’s constitutions to stay in power.
“What is at stake today is: do we continue to support democratically elected authorities, and what does it mean to be democratically elected?” She said. “The problems we have in the sub-region, not just in countries where a coup has occurred, is that you have both unconstitutional civilian coups and coups d’état. military. And it is difficult to fight against the latter when there has not really been a conviction for the former. “
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press reporter Yesica Fisch contributed.