ECOWAS, the West African bloc, has decided to suspend Guinea following a military coup in the country, the organization announced following an emergency conference on Wednesday, calling for an “immediate return to constitutional order.”
Special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized power in the West African state on Sunday and arrested President Alpha Conde, sparking international condemnation.
Conde, 83, had come under increasing fire for perceived authoritarianism, with dozens of opposition activists arrested after a violently disputed election last year.
But the putsch in Guinea has sparked fears of democratic backsliding across West Africa — where military strongmen are an increasingly familiar sight.
It has drawn parallels with its neighbor Mali: the Sahel state has suffered two coups since August last year led by Colonel Assimi Goita,who was also a special forces commander.
Leaders from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an extraordinary video summit to discuss the turmoil in Guinea on Wednesday.
After the meeting, ECOWAS said in a statement regional leaders decided “to suspend Guinea from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies with immediate effect.”
The bloc also demanded that Guinea’s military release Conde and held the coup plotters responsible for the ousted leader’s physical safety.
A high-level ECOWAS mission will be dispatched immediately, the statement said.
“The Authority will review the situation in light of developments in the Republic of Guinea and the Assessment mission report,” it said.