Following the Friday visit of a mission from ECOWAS led by two heads of state from the 15-member West African bloc, Guinea’s ruling junta ruled out exile for detained former president Alpha Conde.
In the statement from the ruling council on Saturday came in defiance of international pressure for Conde’s release and a six-month timetable for elections after a coup on September 5 sparked global condemnation.
“It was important for ECOWAS to listen to the legitimate aspirations of the people of Guinea,” said Colonel Amara Camara , the junta spokesperson.
Doumbouya stressed the need not to repeat the “mistakes of the past”, recalling that national consultations to outline the transition had begun on Tuesday and that “only the sovereign people of Guinea will decide its destiny”, Camara said.
“It is also clear to all parties that the former president will remain in Guinea,” he added.
During their visit, the Ghanaian head of state Nana Akufo-Addo, whose country holds the rotating presidency of ECOWAS, and his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara, presented the junta with the organisation’s demands for elections within six months.
“We had very frank, fraternal talks with Colonel Doumbouya and his associates and collaborators and I think that ECOWAS and Guinea will find a way to walk together,” Akufo-Addo said at the end of the visit.
The ruling council, which now designates Doumbouya as “president of the republic and head of state”, said that consultation sessions scheduled for Friday with banks, insurance companies and unions would be held on Saturday.
The consultations will continue next week, it said, including Monday meetings with cultural actors, press associations and those within the informal sector.
The military has already held talks with political parties, religious leaders, the heads of mining companies, key players in this poor but resource-rich country, and other figures.
Local rights groups, including the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights (OGDH), put out a statement voicing their concern over “respect for democratic principles and the rule of law” and called on the ruling junta to “communicate as soon as possible a roadmap for the transition that takes into account all the proposals arising from the consultations”.
On Saturday four activists against Conde serving a third term returned to the country from exile and were met by cheering crowds at Conakry airport.
Conde had been in power for more than a decade and had sought his third term in 2020 saying that term limits did not apply to him.
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.