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Nigeria Insists on Guinea's Suspension from ECOWAS


West African leaders are scheduled to meet Friday in Nigeria to discuss the military takeover in Guinea. Nigeria, which holds the rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS, is leading calls for Guinea's suspension from the 15-member bloc.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Umaru Yar'Adua in Abuja, Nigeria's Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe sharply condemned Guinea's ruling military. He said Nigeria expects regional leaders to support its demand they suspend Guinea this week at an Economic Community of West African States summit.

"This coup is unacceptable," Maduekwe said. "This people who moved in through non-democratic process should just conduct elections and get out of town. Nigeria has no business with that government in terms of formal recognition, in terms of formal relationship as a government. Absolutely nothing. And we know that ECOWAS officially will also go in that direction."

A group of military officers in Guinea seized power last month after the death of long-serving president Lansana Conte, but the move has been widely criticized. The African Union has suspended Guinea.

But Senegal President Abdulaye Wade, who is expected at the Abuja summit, has publicly praised the coup makers. Some analysts say this could precipitate divisions within ECOWAS.

Nigeria Institute for International Affairs senior research fellow Bola Akinterinwa says Nigeria's position is in line with the current position of the African Union and existing ECOWAS protocols.

"The ECOWAS has, not just a declaration, but a resolution on the issue of unconstitutional takeover of government in West Africa," Akinterinwa said. "The African Union also provided for it in its Constitutive Act. So in this case, Nigeria 's position is not because it is a regional power. No. The issue is that Nigeria now providing the chairmanship of ECOWAS is supposed to be a guarantor of the rules, of laws, of the decisions, of the treaty of ECOWAS. I cannot imagine Nigeria working against what it is supposed to protect."

Guinea's military junta says it will hold elections by the end of 2009, a year earlier than previously announced.




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