The Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) says it is working with the Guinean people to ensure that the
political transition process there is led by civilians and not the
The African Union Monday suspended
Guinea and banned it from AU activities until the new military rulers return the
country to constitutional order.
ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohamed
Ibn Chambas told VOA the sub-region has a zero-tolerance
policy on military takeovers and that the new military leaders in Guinea risk
sanctions if they do not return the country to civilian rule as quickly as
have a policy of zero tolerance for military coup d’états in West Africa. We
would like to work with Guinea to ensure that the transition is one that is
driven by political parties, civil society, the labor unions, of course with
some participation by the military because if we did not do that and if Guinea
then finds itself governed by a military regime, of course sanctions would
follow, and that would not be in the interest of the sub-region,” he said.
said ECOWAS does not want a destabilized Guinea to affect countries in the Mano
River Union such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cote D’Ivoire that are
recovering from conflicts.
would not want anything in that sub-region of West Africa to jeopardize the
fragile peace in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire.
And that’s why ECOWAS is determined to work with the Guinean people to ensure
that the transition is not a military-led transition but a civilian transition
which can now lead to a new beginning where Guinea can join the rest of West
Africa on the path of building democracy and restoring normal good governance
on a democratic path,” Chambas said.
constitution stipulates that the speaker of the national assembly would act as
interim president until fresh elections can be held within two months.
said Guinea, a country that has never in its history held transparent, credible
elections is still not ready to hold elections in two months as stipulated in
need to see the current situation as an opportunity for a new beginning in
Guinea, for a break with the past, a past which was characterized by
dictatorship and a lack of willingness to move toward democratic governance.
And that’s where we would like to be able to work with the Guinean people. I
must emphasize we want to work with civil society, with the political parties,
with the unions, or course with the CNDD (the ruling National Council for
Democracy and Development) to ensure that the transition is a civilian-led
transition, not a military transition,” he said.
whose ECOWAS delegation held meetings over the weekend in Guinea with all
parties, said it is totally unacceptable that elections should be held in
Guinea in two years as pronounced by the new military rulers.
seems to be a consensus in Guinea that the country can go to elections sooner
than two years. The country in fact was preparing for legislative elections in
May. There is a voter registration exercise which is ongoing now. We hope that it is not disrupted; we hope
that it can be continued and completed perhaps in the next month or two. That
would be a major step forward. Now once you have the voter registration
exercise done, certainly elections can be held much, much sooner than in two
years,” he said.
said ECOWAS is counting on the new military rulers in Guinea to do the right
thing otherwise they would face sanctions.
the transition ends up to be a purely military government, then there would be
no choice for the African Union, there will be no choice for ECOWAS and indeed
I must mention the international community but to apply sanctions because the
policy now in Africa and West Africa is a zero tolerance for military
governments. I think that should be appreciated by all, and especially the
Guineans,” Chambas said.
said the Guinean people are yearning for democracy and that the death of
President Lansana Conte provides a good opportunity for the new military regime
to construct a democratic future for Guinea.