The military junta in power in Guinea-Conakry since the coup d'état on the 5th refused to release the deposed Guinean president, Alpha Condé, after talks held on Friday with a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In response to rumours of a possible departure of the ousted president, the military junta assured in a statement read out late yesterday on national television that "the former president of the Republic, Alpha Condé, will remain in Guinea".
"We will not give in to any pressure. He will receive humane treatment worthy of his rank in his country," the military said.
Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d'Ivoire, and Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and current head of ECOWAS, were the representatives of the organisation at the meeting held on Friday in a hotel in the Guinean capital with Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the main architect of the coup.
The delegation was also able to visit Condé, who was found to be in good condition, according to statements reported in the local media.
The meeting came after the 15-nation bloc, of which Guinea-Conakry is a member, decided to impose sanctions against the coup perpetrators at an extraordinary summit in Ghana's capital, Accra, on Thursday.
The organisation also demanded a return to constitutional order within six months and the release of Alpha Condé.
Despite the refusal to release the ousted leader, Akufo-Addo told the media after the meeting that they had had "a very frank and fraternal conversation with Colonel Doumbouya and his associates and collaborators".
"I believe that ECOWAS and Guinea will find a way to walk together," the Ghanaian president said, without elaborating.
A group of anti-sanctions protesters greeted ECOWAS presidents upon their arrival at Conakry-Gbèssia International Airport on Friday, carrying banners claiming the "sovereignty" of the small African nation.
On 8 September ECOWAS already decided, after another extraordinary summit, to suspend Guinea from all ECOWAS institutions, an example followed by the African Union a few days later.
The coup in Guinea-Conakry has sparked fears of a democratic backlash in West Africa, following two military uprisings in neighbouring Mali since August last year and the seizure of power in Chad by a military junta after the death in combat of President Idriss Déby last April.
Alpha Condé, 83, in power since 2010, was overthrown and arrested by members of the army's Special Forces Group led by Colonel Doumbouya, who said he staged the coup to create the conditions for the rule of law.
The colonel, the country's new strongman, justified the coup by "the lack of respect for democratic principles, excessive politicisation of the public administration, financial mismanagement, endemic poverty and corruption" in the country.
The coup plotters created the National Committee for Rallying and Development (CNRD) in order to "initiate a national consultation to open an inclusive and peaceful transition".
The dialogue is taking place this week with different Guinean socio-political actors, such as political party leaders, religious representatives, businessmen from the mining sector and the media.
On 18 October, the country held presidential elections in which Condé opted for a controversial third term, not allowed in principle by the Constitution, following a referendum in March 2020 to change the Magna Carta, approved with 91.5 % of the votes.
According to some observers, this forced change, which provoked violent protests with casualties, made the president vulnerable to a coup attempt.
Guinea-Conakry is one of the poorest countries in the world, but has significant mining, water and agricultural potential. Its reserves of bauxite, the raw material for aluminium production, are among the largest in the world and have attracted investors from China, Russia and France in recent years. EFE