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Ghana, Ivory Coast presidents in Guinea to pressure junta

Ghana, Ivory Coast presidents in Guinea to pressure junta
A delegation of West African leaders has met with junta leaders in Guinea, a day after the regional bloc imposed sanctions on the military chiefs and their families over this month’s coup

A delegation of West African leaders met with junta leaders in Guinea Friday, a day after the regional bloc imposed sanctions on the military chiefs and their families over this month’s coup.

Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led the delegation that met with Col. Mamady Doumbouya to discuss the decisions made by the 15-member regional bloc, known as ECOWAS. Delegation members also pushed for the release of Guinea President Alpha Conde, who was deposed in the Sept. 5 coup and has been imprisoned since.

Even before the delegation arrived, demonstrators opposed to Conde gathered outside the airport to protest the involvement of ECOWAS. Many Guineans have questioned the role of ECOWAS, saying it did not put enough pressure on Conde when he changed the country’s constitution to allow himself to seek a third term in office.

After a summit Thursday in Ghana’s capital, Accra the bloc imposed travel bans and froze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta as well as their families. They also insisted on a quick transition to elections.

The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s military leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana, who did not give further details. The junta, which has been meeting with business and political leaders this week, had not responded to the sanctions prior to the meetings.

Doumbouya has sought to reassure the mining industry, Guinea’s most vital economic sector, that the political changes will not impact existing mining in the country — which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.

The coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, or outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.

Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.

At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France dans 1958.

The regional bloc is also trying to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.

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N’Gotta reported from Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire