Leaders of West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS yesterday met in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, to discuss the political situation in Guinea.
Few weeks ago ECOWAS decided to suspend Guinea from the West African Bloc Following the overthrow of Alpha Conde by elite unit soldiers led by Col Mamady Doumbouya.
Alpha Conde who had spent almost a year on his third team as the Guinea’s president lost his presidential seat by Special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya afer seizing power in the West African state on Sunday and arrested President Alpha Conde hence sparking international condemnation.
In a video summit to Leaders from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to suspend Guinea from all West Africa decision-making bodies with immediate effect after juntas took over power.
The bloc also demanded that Guinea’s military release Conde and held the coup plotters responsible for the ousted leader’s physical safety.
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 coup-makers to bring Guinea back to constitutional rule,” Botchway said.
The junta in Guinea, led by Mamady Doumbouya, a former member of the French Foreign Legion, 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.
Botchway said that, during the mission’s meeting with the junta on Friday, the coup leaders had not been in a position to say how long it would be before they returned the country to constitutional rule.
“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.
She added that the junta also set some conditions under which they would release the ousted president, though did not specify what the terms were.
Doumbouya and the other soldiers behind the coup have 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.
The coup in Guinea was the fourth in Africa in just over a year after two in Mali and one unsuccessful coup attempt in Niger.
Neighbouring Mali has had two interventions by the army in less than a year, the most recent one in May and in Niger, a coup was thwarted in March just days before a presidential inauguration.
A study by two US researchers, Jonathan Powell and Clayton Thyne, identified over 200 such attempts in Africa since the late 1950s though half of these have been successful.
In 2017 in Zimbabwe, a military takeover brought Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule to an end and there were celebrations after the Zimbabwe army intervened.
In April this year, after the death of the Chadian leader Idriss Deby, the army installed his son as interim president leading a transitional military council. His opponents called it a “dynastic coup”.
“Coup leaders almost invariably deny their action was a coup in an effort to appear legitimate,” says Jonathan Powell.
In the four decades between 1960 and 2000, the overall number of coup attempts in Africa has remained remarkably consistent at an average of around four a year.
Sudan has had the most with 15 – five of them successful. The most recent was in 2019 with the removal of Omar al-Bashir as head of state following months of popular protest.
Bashir had himself taken over power in a military coup in 1989.
Nigeria had a reputation for military coups in the years following independence with eight between January 1966 and the takeover by General Sani Abacha in 1993.
However, since 1999 transfers of power in Africa’s most populous nation have been by democratic election.
Burundi’s history has been marked by eleven separate coups, mostly driven by the tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi communities.
Sierra Leone experienced three coups between 1967 and 1968, and another one in 1971. Between 1992 and 1997, it experienced five further coup attempts.
Ghana has also had its share of military coups, with eight in two decades. The first was in 1966, when Kwame Nkrumah was removed from power, and in the following year there was an unsuccessful attempt by junior army officers.