A leading figure in Guinea’s opposition on Saturday urged the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) not to impose economic sanctions on Guinea’s new military regime, describing the recent coup as a “welcome development.”
“The junta does not deserve to be sanctioned because it put an end to a situation of lawlessness,” former Guinean prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo said.
Diallo, who ran unsuccessfully against deposed president Alpha Conde three times in successive elections, said there were no other options left but a coup.
Guinea’s ruling military has been coming under growing diplomatic pressure after special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized power last Sunday and arrested Conde.
ECOWAS suspended Guinea on Wednesday, and the African Union followed suit on Friday.
ECOWAS has suspended a decision on economic sanctions until it receives a report from a fact-finding mission sent to Guinea.
However, Diallo said: “The involvement of the army to end an illegal and illegitimate mandate was for me a welcome decision.”
He maintains that Conde cheated him out of the presidency in last year’s election.
Conde, 83, had come under increasing fire for perceived authoritarianism, with dozens of opposition activists arrested after last year’s violently disputed election.
However, the coup in Guinea has sparked fears of democratic backsliding across West Africa, where military strongmen are an increasingly familiar sight.
Guinea’s coup leaders have formed a junta named the CNRD, which has dissolved the government along with a controversial new constitution that Conde pushed through to allow him to run for a third term.
They have also promised form a “government of national union” to oversee a political transition.
In Mali, ECOWAS initially objected to the military regime there overseeing a move to transitional rule after the army seized power. The military remains in power, and doubts are growing about its commitment to elections in February next year.
In Chad, when then-president Idriss Deby died in battle in April, his son seized power at the head of a military junta. Neither ECOWAS nor the African Union had been able to impose an immediate move to civilian rule.
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