‘Serious decisions’: West African leaders to hold summit on Guinea coup


West African leaders will meet on Thursday to decide how to respond to the coup in Guinea and how to pressure the junta leaders to return the country to constitutional rule, Ghana’s foreign minister said.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the putsch that overthrew President Alpha Conde, the third coup in West and Central Africa since April.

The bloc suspended Guinea from the decision-making bodies of the organisation last week and sent a mission to meet the coup leaders on Friday.

Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who chairs the ECOWAS council of ministers, told a news conference in Accra that the mission would report back to the national leaders during Thursday’s summit in Accra.

“The presidents will consider the report and decide what to do. They’ll decide on how to put pressure on the coup-makers to bring Guinea back to constitutional rule,” Botchway said.

The junta in Guinea, led by Mamady Doumbouya, a former member of the French Foreign Legion, began holding consultations with various public figures and groups in the country including political parties and religious leaders on Tuesday.

It said at the time that the four-day talks would lead to the formation of a transitional government.

Botchway said that, during the mission’s meeting with the junta on Friday, the coup leaders had not been in a position to say how long it would be before they returned the country to constitutional rule.

“It is now up to the heads of state to take some serious decisions on Guinea. How they want to see the transition and for how long it will be,” she said.

She added that the junta also set some conditions under which they would release the ousted president, though did not specify what the terms were.

Doumbouya and the other soldiers behind the coup have said they ousted Conde because of concerns about poverty and corruption, and because he was serving a third term in power only after altering the constitution to permit it.

Botchway, asked by journalists whether ECOWAS should have done more to prevent Conde from extending his presidency, said the bloc was working to amend its rules to prevent such situations happening in the future.

“There is a need amend the ECOWAS charter to have more stringent measures to proactively deal with situations where presidents try to change constitutions to remain in power,” she said.