A much-anticipated meeting between a delegation of the West African regional bloc, Ecowas, and Guinea’s military junta failed to secure the release of deposed president Alpha Conde.
However, the delegation, which also met with the former President separately, described its mission on Friday as “progressive.”
The team arrived in the Guinean capital Conakry in the morning hours of Friday onboard a Ghanaian carrier and they were driven straightaway to a hotel, where the meeting with the junta was held.
Junta leader Lt. Col. Mamady Doumbouya and his colleagues arrived in an armoured vehicle, surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.
On Sunday, Doumbouya led a group of soldiers from the elite special forces unit within the Guinean army to overthrow President Conde, whom they accused of corruption and human rights violations.
The 83-year-old Conde, who is detained in an unknown facility, is reported to have refused to tender his resignation, apparently hoping that he will be restored to power.
The “unconditional release” of Mr Conde was at the top of the agenda of the delegation which is seeking to get the military hand over power to a civilian government.
The head of the Ecowas delegation was Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who is the chairperson of Ecowas Council of Ministers.
She was accompanied by her counterparts from Burkina Faso, Alpha Barry, and Professor Robert Dussey of Togo. Also in the delegation was the Ecowas Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou.
According to sources, the bloc is seeking to have the military appoint a civilian prime minister who will lead the government in a transition to an election.
The delegation didn’t say much after the meetings, promising that a detailed report will be presented to the region’s heads of state later.
But Brou, while briefly speaking to reporters after the meeting, described it as positive. He also said that Conde is in good health.
Conde first came to power in 2010 in Guinea’s first democratic election since independence in 1958. He was re-elected in 2015. And last year he defied public opposition to change the constitution and ran for a controversial third term.
Sunday’s coup drew global condemnations.
Friday’s visit by the Ecowas delegation came as diplomatic pressure continues to mount on the junta. The African Union also suspended the country from all its activities decision-making bodies.
While diplomatic negotiations continue, the military leadership is gradually consolidating its power on the ground.
On Thursday, it ordered the central bank and commercial banks to freeze the bank accounts of all government ministries, departments and agencies, noting that the move is aimed at securing state assets.
Ecowas is expected to make a final decision after a report from its mission is presented to the leaders.
There are fears that any possible sanction will not only worsen an already difficult living condition for Guineans, but it will also affect neighboring countries like Sierra Leone which relies on its bigger neighbour for trade in a wide range of basic commodities such as foodstuff and raw materials for manufacturing.