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West Africa economic bloc suspends Guinea after coup

September 9, 2021

The ECOWAS bloc called on Guinea to return to "normal constitutional order" after President Alpha Conde was deposed in a coup by special forces.

Flags of ECOWAS member states
ECOWAS is not only a political and economic union, but also a peacekeeping force in the West Africa regionImage: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Guinea's membership in the bloc on Wednesday after a military coup this past weekend.

The move comes amid fears of a deterioration of democracy in West African countries, and drawing parallels with recent coups in Mali.

What did ECOWAS say?

ECOWAS "has decided to suspend Guinea from all of its decision-making bodies," Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said after the leaders from the 15-member bloc discussed the crisis in a video summit.

Barry said the bloc called on the coup leaders to release detained President Alpha Conde.

The bloc urged Guinea "to put in place a process that will allow a rapid return to normal constitutional order."

ECOWAS is expected to send a mediation mission to Guinea's capital, Conakry, on Thursday.

The United Nations and African Union have also condemned the military coup.

What happened during the military takeover?

Special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya arrested Conde on Sunday.

Doumbouya announced the dissolution of the government during a televised broadcast and the closing of the country's borders. 

Doumbouya slammed Conde's government and said there was "poverty and endemic corruption" under his leadership. He accused Conde's administration of "trampling on citizens' rights."

The ruling military junta calls itself the National Committee of Reconciliation and Development.

The address came after shots were fired near the presidential palace in Conakry. Guinea's Defense Ministry insisted that the situation was under control and claimed government forces "contained the threat."

Conde, the country's first democratically-elected leader, came into office in 2010.

He won a third term in the October 2020 presidential election, with the opposition claiming fraud and violent protests occurring after the results.

The putschists have released a group of "political detainees" who were held in prison under Conde's government.

Guinea gained independence from France in 1958. Although the country is mineral rich and one of the world's top suppliers of bauxite, an ore used to make metals, much of its population lives in poverty.

wd/rs (Reuters, AFP)