Army junta begins talks on the way forward for Guinea after the coup | World information
By BOUBACAR DIALLO and KRISTA LARSON, Associated Press
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) – Guinea’s junta is expected to face more pressure on Tuesday to set a timeframe for new elections, as military rulers hold a four-day series of meetings on the future of the West African nation after the coup a little more than one ago Open week.
Concern grows over how quickly the junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya will hand over power to a civilian-led interim government, as regional mediators and the international community are calling for.
The coup was greeted cautiously by other long-time opponents of the ousted President Alpha Conde, including Guinea’s most prominent oppositionist Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost to the ousted leader in the last three presidential elections.
Anger over Conde’s quest for a third term last year sparked violent street demonstrations, and many in the capital, Conakry, have supported the military takeover. How long that takes may depend on what arrangements are made at this week’s meetings.
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Attendees include leaders from Guinea’s mining industry, whom the junta leader wanted to calm down to prevent the destabilization of the critical bauxite and gold exports that support the country’s economy.
On Tuesday, the junta began talks with representatives from Diallo’s party, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, and other critics of Conde. It will later greet religious leaders at the People’s Palace, where it previously summoned officials from the overthrown government and asked them to hand over their passports and keys to government vehicles.
Following his visit to Conakry on Monday, the head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel said he had “great hopes” for this week’s meetings.
“Whatever the international community will say or do, the Guineans themselves will decide the fate of Guinea,” said Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh.
Diallo, the three-time presidential candidate, has made it clear that he wants to run in new elections. In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, he described the ousted president as a dictator who brought about his own downfall for disregarding constitutional term limits.
The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has already threatened sanctions if the junta does not release the deposed president, as was the case last year in a military coup in neighboring Mali.
“I urge you not to sanction Guinea, but to accompany the new authorities in the swift return to constitutional order within a reasonable time frame by organizing inclusive, free and transparent elections,” the long-time leader of the Guinea opposition told the AP.
After Mali’s coup in August 2020, ECOWAS imposed sanctions and proposed a one-year deadline for the political transition. Regional mediators later agreed with the junta leaders and accepted an 18-month timeframe that now seems dubious as February 2022 approaches. After agreeing to a civil transitional government following the coup, Col. Assimi Goita effectively staged another coup nine months later by dismissing the president and prime minister and later declaring himself president of the transition.
Both Guinea and Mali had gone without military coups for years, leading some to believe they might be a thing of the past. Even if an agreement is reached in Guinea this week, observers stress that the situation in Mali underscores the fragility of such agreements with military juntas.
Some fear that the coups in West Africa, if left unchecked, could encourage military officials elsewhere to make their own takeovers. At the beginning of the year, the military in Chad also took over power after long-time President Idriss Deby Itno was assassinated, handing over responsibility to his son Mahamat Idriss Deby, even though the Chadian constitution provided for a transfer of power to the President of the National Assembly.
Niagale Bagayoko, chairwoman of the African Security Sector Network, which focuses her research on West and Central Africa, said the threat extends beyond military coups to include presidents trying to change their country’s constitutions to stay in power.
“Today it’s about: 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 taken place, is that there are both unconstitutional civil coups and military coups. And it is difficult to fight the latter unless the former have actually been condemned. “
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associate press journalist Yesica Fisch contributed to this.
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