A delegation from West Africa’s main political and economic bloc arrived in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Friday in hopes of steering the junta that ousted President Alpha Conde towards a civilian-led, constitutional regime.
West Africa’s third putsch since April has intensified fears of a backslide towards military rule in the region, which had been starting to shed its ‘coup-belt’ reputation.
Regional leaders suspended Guinea’s membership of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc on Wednesday but stopped short of imposing further sanctions.
The ECOWAS delegation will be led by its Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Ghana’s foreign affairs minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway and Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Alpha Barry.
The envoys will push the junta to appoint a “credible” civilian prime minister as soon as possible, to help steer Guinea back towards constitutional order, a high-ranking regional official told Reuters on Thursday.
As it moves to strengthen its hold on power, the junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, ordered the central bank and other banks on Thursday to freeze all government accounts to secure state assets.
Doumbouya and the other special forces soldiers behind Sunday’s coup said they ousted Conde because of concerns about poverty and endemic corruption.
The putsch has been condemned by partners including the United States, which said on Thursday it was not involved in the military seizure of power after a video emerged of U.S. soldiers in a crowd of jubilant Guineans as events unfolded on Sunday.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement that prior to the events, a small team of U.S. service members was engaged in a joint training exercise outside the capital Conakry.
“Given the changing security situation, it was decided that the team would be relocated to the U.S. Embassy in Conakry.
Guinean security forces provided an escort to Conakry to ensure the safe passage of the team,” the State Department said, adding that the video appeared to depict part of that relocation.