Ecowas suspends Guinea and prepares to send delegation after coup
West African bloc calls for the release of President Alpha Conde
Conakry — West African bloc Ecowas has suspended Guinea’s membership following the military coup that overthrew President Alpha Conde over the weekend, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister Alpha Barry said on Wednesday.
The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also demanded Conde’s release from military custody, and will send a high-level delegation to Guinea on Thursday, said Alpha Barry, speaking to the media after a video summit of leaders.
Earlier, Guinea’s military leaders said they had freed scores of political prisoners ahead of the meeting of West African leaders.
At least 80 political prisoners detained by Conde were released on Tuesday evening. Some had campaigned against his attempt to stay in power for a third term after altering the constitution to permit it, a move opponents said was illegal.
Coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, has pledged to install a unified, transitional government but has not said when or how that will happen.
Doumbouya also met the heads of Guinea’s various military branches for the first time on Tuesday, hoping to unify the country’s armed forces under the junta's command.
Guinea's main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, who finished runner-up to Conde in three successive elections, told Reuters on Tuesday he would be open to participating in a transition back to constitutional governance.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Conde’s party said it “noted the advent of new authorities at the head of the country” and called for Conde's rapid and unconditional release.
Since the putsch, life in the streets of Conakry appears to have returned to normal, with some military checkpoints removed.
Fears the power struggle could hinder Guinea’s production of bauxite, a mineral used to make aluminium, have begun to ease. The country’s largest foreign operators continued to operate without disruption on Tuesday.
Aluminium hit a 10-year high on Monday after news broke of unrest in Guinea, which holds the worlds largest bauxite reserves. Doumbouya has pledged that mining will continue unhindered.
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