By: Rebecca Ekpe
What is the response from Guinea? How has Guinea responded as the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS suspended it from all of its governing bodies with immediate effect? This was the outcome of the Virtual Emergency Session convened in Accra by President Akufo-Addo, Chairman of the Economic Community of West African Heads of State, ECOWAS.
The Sub- Regional Bloc also called for the immediate return to Constitutional order and demanded that the Defence and Security Forces maintain a Constitutional posture. Also, it demanded respect for the physical safety of President Alpha Conde’, demanding his immediate and unconditional release, as well as that of all arrested persons.
Reacting to Guinea’s suspension from ECOWAS, a Researcher with Afro-barometer, Guinea, Dr. Ali Barry said he is highly disappointed and also surprised at the outcome of the deliberation of the Extraordinary Summit, following the coup staged on Sunday, September 5, 2021, by members of the Special Forces of Guinea, led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya.
Ahead of the ECOWAS Summit, some Security Experts were of the view that the outcome would help to normalise the situation in Guinea. Dr. Rashid Pelpuo cautioned ECOWAS to be careful with any potential sanctions because the coup in Guinea had public support.
Following the jubilant crowd that poured onto the streets when the Special Forces of Guinea, led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya drove President Alpha Conde’ out of the Presidential Palace gave the indication that the military uprising in Guinea was a Populist action, and therefore, it would be a backlash for ECOWAS to punish or for that matter penalize the country for violating ECOWAS protocols.
Dr. Ali Barry said although disappointed at the decision, eliminating Guinea from the Bloc, he understands that they have to go by the tenets of the agreed protocols.
“It is simply a matter of principle, this whole thing began in March of 2020 with the change of the Constitution, that started the problem in Guinea. When President Conde’ decided to change the Constitution to run for a 3rd term, even though the previous Constitution stated that he could stand for only 2 terms, so which Constitution do we go by?’’ Dr. Barry questioned.
He described the Guinea situation as a difficult one.
Dr. Barry was also quick to say that ECOWAS should have intervened earlier.
“It is a confusing situation, I think, no solution, but, the best thing now is to get Guinea back to the democratic process,’’ Mr. Barry stated.
Perhaps that is why some analysts believe that ECOWAS should mount pressure on the military to quickly hand over power to the civilians. They are of the view that if this is not done quickly, the soldiers may stay unconstitutionally for long.
A Delegation from ECOWAS is to visit Guinea to assess the situation which would inform the hierarchy on the Sub-regional block on the way forward.
Dr. Barry said the delegation has the onerous task of meeting with the leadership of the Junta and the expectation is that they must have a listening ear,
“More especially what the citizens want,’’ he stated.
Active involvement of Civil Society in the process is also critical to its success. CSOs in Guinea are on record to have openly spoken against the move by President Alpha Conde’ to change the Constitution that would allow him a 3rd term in office, it is therefore prudent that Civil Society is made an integral part of the process that would ensure that Guinea is placed on the right path back to Constitutional rule.