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ECOWAS Encouraged by New Developments in Guinea

For almost a week now, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been planning to send a peace delegation to Guinea in the wake of that country’s two-week old deadly strike. Mohamed Ibn Chambas is executive secretary of ECOWAS. He said the sub-regional organization is pleased with the latest news that Guinean President Lansana Conte has agreed to appoint a consensus prime minister.

“We welcome the decision by the president to agree to a consensus prime minister, one that is acceptable to the opposition. We’ve always believed that it is only through dialogue and an all-inclusive participatory process that Guineans would be able to find a lasting solution to the current crisis in their country, and we think this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

At the end of their summit held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso January 19, ECOWAS heads of state agreed to send a peace delegation comprising heads of state to Guinea. Chambas said diplomatic protocol had slowed the delegation’s departure.

“For a delegation of heads of state to go to any country, you have to liaise and discuss with the authorities, with the stakeholders. The truth is that both the authorities and I should say the opposition political parties felt that ECOWAS should hold on with the delegation. So that’s why the delegation as quickly as we would all have wanted to go,” Chambas said

He said ECOWAS continues to closely monitor the situation in Guinea and to facilitate dialogue among the parties.

“I myself as we speak right now, I have asked the commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security to go to Conakry, and indeed, he will be there later this afternoon (Thursday) to be on the ground to find out what is going on. We will facilitate the process of dialogue and understanding among the Guineans. But ultimately it’s for the Guineans to resolve their differences, their crisis, and we are very encouraged by the dialogue that is going on now that involves the political parties, the trade unions, civil society. That is the way to go, and ECOWAS going to Guinea is to facilitate, to encourage, not to take any action that might plunge the country deeper into crisis,” Chambas said.