Longtime Guinean opposition leaders on Tuesday expressed support for the country’s new military rulers as a four-day summit began aimed at charting the future of the West African nation after a coup. ‘Status a little over a week ago.
Pressure is expected to mount this week, however, for Colonel Mamady Doumbouya to set a timetable for holding new elections. Regional mediators and the international community are calling on the junta to hand over power to a transitional government led by civilians.
Opposition party leaders who traveled to the heavily guarded People’s Palace for Tuesday’s meeting, however, publicly supported the coup and further criticized ousted President Alpha Condé. The 83-year-old leader was arrested by the junta in the September 5 coup and his exact whereabouts have not been revealed.
Condé sparked violent street protests last year after pushing for a constitutional referendum which he said allowed him to extend his reign for a third term.
Ousmane Kaba, leader of the opposition Democrats for Hope party, also called Condé’s offer to stay in power beyond his term as a coup.
“It wasn’t legal, you know, that’s why we had a military coup to stop the institutional and constitutional coup,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “And I think the international community should help us, should help Guinea have a good transition.”
The most prominent Guinean opposition figure, Cellou Dalein Diallo, has already spoken out against Condé, calling him a dictator who had brought about his own downfall. Diallo, who had lost to the ousted leader in the last three presidential elections, said he intended to run in every next election.
But the opposition’s demand for support, not punishment, might not sway the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS. He has already threatened Guinea with economic sanctions unless the junta immediately releases the ousted president.
The bloc made a similar move in August 2020 when it imposed sanctions on neighboring Mali after mutinous soldiers there toppled a longtime president who had become increasingly unpopular. Regional mediators asked for a one-year delay for new elections in Mali, but then nodded to the junta leaders and agreed to an 18-month delay instead.
Even that now seems in doubt as February 2022 approaches, as Colonel Assimi Goita effectively staged a second coup in Mali nine months after the first by sacking the civilian president and prime minister and declaring himself more. late president of the transition.
In the case of Mali, the junta had overthrown a president who had come to power thanks to a democratic election supported by the international community and who had not sought to change the limits of the country’s mandates.
The ex-Guinean leader, however, had lost credibility with many in Conakry after winning his third term in October. This appears to have dampened the public backlash against the junta so far in the Guinean capital, where opposition figures said on Tuesday they were optimistic about what the coming days would bring.
Sidya Touré, leader of the Union of Republican Forces party, said conditions already appeared to have improved since the military takeover. He recalled how the security forces “tried to kidnap me at home” during the Condé regime.
“We can see it all over the city of Conakry, absolutely the change among the military and the police,” he said. “I think we are headed in the right direction at the moment.”