West African Regional Bloc Suspends Guinea Over Coup


ABUJA - The West African bloc ECOWAS has suspended Guinea’s membership after a military coup that removed President Alpha Conde. ECOWAS leaders on Wednesday urged Guinea's coup leaders to release Conde and return to constitutional order. The West African bloc plans to send a high-level mission to Guinea to try to mediate the situation.

Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Alpha Barry, announced the suspension late Wednesday after a virtual extraordinary meeting of all 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States.

ECOWAS leaders at the meeting demanded the immediate release of Guinea's ousted president Alpha Condé and his return to power.

They also said a mediation mission will be sent to Guinea on Thursday to facilitate a return to constitutional order.

Military forces led by lieutenant colonel Mamady Doumbouya overthrew president Condé's government on Sunday, sparking widespread criticism from leaders including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Godbless Otubure is the global president of Ready to Lead Africa, a nonprofit promoting constitutional democracy. He says Conde was the one threatening order in Guinea.

"People's freedoms, people's ways of life and capacity to make decisions based on consensus have all been lost because one man's ambition had become too detrimental to the health of the democratic expression in Guinea," he said.

Condé, 83, became the first democratic president to be elected in Guinea in 2010 and was reelected in 2015.

But last year, he modified the country's constitution allowing him a chance at a third term in office. His victory at the polls was largely disputed and led to protests that killed dozens of people in October.

General Secretary of the West African Civil Society Forum, Komlan Messie, says ECOWAS failed to act when it ought to.

"Modifying the constitution is a constitutional coup, we condemn military coup but also we condemn constitutional coup. At that moment we would have expected ECOWAS to do the same thing they're doing today," he said.

In May, ECOWAS suspended Mali for its second coup in months, after a military coup last August ousted Mali's former leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Otubure and Messie say coups in Africa nations are setting back years of democracy in the region and impeding growth.

Source: Voice of America

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