Guinea’s longtime opposition leaders expressed their support for the country’s new military rulers on Tuesday as a four-day summit began that aims to chart the future of the West African nation following a coup. just over a week ago.
However, pressure is expected to increase this week for Colonel Mamady Doumbouya to set a deadline for new elections. Regional mediators and the international community are calling for the junta to hand over power to a civilian-led transitional government.
However, opposition party leaders who came to the heavily guarded People’s Palace for Tuesday’s meeting publicly endorsed the coup and further criticized ousted President Alpha Conde. The 83-year-old leader was detained by the junta during the September 5 coup and his exact whereabouts have not been revealed.
Conde sparked violent street protests last year after pushing for a constitutional referendum that he said allowed him to extend his term to a third term.Ousmane Kaba, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for Hope, called Conde’s attempt to stay in power beyond his term as a coup.
“That was not legal, you know, that’s why we had a military coup to stop the institutional and constitutional coup,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “And I think the international community should help us, it should help Guinea have a good transition.” .
Guinea’s most prominent opposition figure, Cellou Dalein Diallo, has already spoken out against Conde, calling him a dictator who had brought about his own downfall. Diallo, who had lost to the ousted leader in the last three presidential elections, has indicated that he intends to run the next time a vote is held.
But the opposition’s request for support rather than punishment may not sway the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS. It has already threatened Guinea with economic sanctions unless the junta releases the deposed president immediately.
The bloc took a similar move in August 2020 when it imposed sanctions on neighboring Mali after mutinous soldiers toppled a longtime president who had become increasingly unpopular. The regional mediators asked for a one-year deadline for the new elections in Mali, but then they agreed to the board leaders and agreed to an 18-month deadline.
Even that now appears to be in doubt as February 2022 approaches, as Colonel Assimi Goita effectively staged a second coup in Mali nine months after the first by firing the civilian president and prime minister and then declaring himself president of the transition.
In the case of Mali, the junta overthrew a president who came to power through a democratic election supported by the international community and who had not sought to change the country’s term limits.
However, the former Guinean leader had lost credibility with many in Conakry after he won his third term in October. That appears to have muted public backlash against the junta so far in the Guinean capital, where opposition figures said Tuesday they were optimistic about what the next few days would bring.
Sidya Touré, leader of the Union of Republican Forces party, said conditions already seem to have improved since the military seizure of power. He recalled how the security forces “tried to kidnap me from my home” during the Conde regime.
“We can see it all over the city of Conakry, absolutely the change between the military and the police,” he said. “I think we are on the right track at the moment.”