West Africa’s regional bloc announces new sanctions over Guinea’s democracy transition scheme.
The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, has announced more sanctions against Guinea’s military government after it failed to set a new timetable for a democratic transition.
At an extraordinary summit held Thursday on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders of West Africa’s main political and economic bloc agreed to freeze and ban the financial assets of military government members. to travel to other countries in the region.
The regional bloc also gave Guinea until October 22 to set a “reasonable” timetable or face additional sanctions.
“These sanctions have been taken to facilitate the process of a speedy return to constitutional order in Guinea, a precondition for peace, stability and development,” the bloc said in a statement after the summit.
Guinea has been ruled by the military since a coup in September 2021 overthrew President Alpha Conde, who had been in power since 2010.
Guinea’s army-appointed Prime Minister Bernard Gomou has previously criticized ECOWAS chief Umaro Sissoco Embalo, describing him as a “puppet wearing a statesman’s mantle”.
It was not made clear who would be affected by the new sanctions, as much of the military leadership has been under strict financial and travel restrictions since the takeover.
The ECOWAS Development Bank said in a statement it would suspend funding for Guinean development projects as part of the new sanctions. The bank currently supports at least two energy projects in the country.
ECOWAS first endorsed Guinea’s military rulers and their families in the days following the September 2021 coup.
Interim President Mamady Dumbouya proposed a three-year transition schedule in May, which ECOWAS rejected in early July. They said the military rulers would face additional sanctions if a new date was not set in early August.
In late July, Embalo said Guinea had agreed to shorten the timeline of its planned transition to civilian rule from three to two years.
However, Embalo warned on Wednesday that if the military rulers adhered to that timetable, sanctions would follow.
Colonel Amara Camara, a senior military figure, responded by accusing Embalo of “lies” and “harassment”.
The West African bloc has been battling a series of military coups in the region over the past two years.
ECOWAS leaders also used the summit to condemn the continued detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers in Mali, who have been detained in the capital Bamako since July 10 on charges of acting as mercenaries.
Côte d’Ivoire, which has repeatedly called for their release, says the soldiers were deployed as part of a security and logistical support contract signed with the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.
ECOWAS leaders condemned the Malian authorities for using “blackmail” in their negotiations with the Ivorian authorities and said the presidents of Ghana, Togo and Senegal would soon travel to Mali to negotiate the soldiers’ unconditional release.