West African leaders to hold summit on Guinea situation

ECOWAS flags are pictured during an emergency summit of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on December 24, 2010,PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/Getty Images

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

FILE PHOTO: ECOWAS flags are pictured during a previous summit of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States. /Getty Images

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the military overthrow of President Alpha Conde.

The bloc suspended Guinea from the decision-making bodies of the organization last week and sent a mission to meet military 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 military to bring Guinea back to constitutional rule,” Botchway said.

Led by Mamady Doumbouya, a former member of the French Foreign Legion, the military 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.

“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.

Doumbouya and the other soldiers 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.