Published on: 09/23/2022 – 19:10 The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decreed “progressive sanctions” against the Guinean military authorities on Thursday. An announcement that comes in a context of growing tensions between the putschists in power and the sub-regional organization. Gathered in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced, Thursday, September 23, a regime of “progressive sanctions” to against the Guinean junta and its supporters. These measures include “the freezing of the financial assets” of the leaders, subject to a “travel ban” as well as the suspension “of all assistance and financial transactions in favor of Guinea by the financial institutions of ECOWAS”, according to the press release published the day after the meeting. Conakry’s new strongman, Mamadi Doumbouya, had pledged to lead an inclusive transition process “in close cooperation with ECOWAS”. Since then, tensions have been building up and relations have turned into open conflict. France 24 returns to the reasons for the estrangement. This is undoubtedly the major point of contention between the Guinean transitional authorities and the sub-regional organization. After the military took power on September 5, 2021, ECOWAS, whose role is to promote economic cooperation but also to guarantee regional stability, had insisted on the need for a rapid transition towards elections allowing the return of a civilian government in power. The organization had initially given Guinea six months to unveil “an acceptable timetable for the return to constitutional order”. In early May, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya finally lifted the veil: the transition will last 39 months, or three years and month. While criticisms fuse within the opposition, the National Council of Transition (CNT), which acts as parliament, finally ratifies a deadline of 36 months. A duration still considered far too long by ECOWAS. Sovereignty above all This arm wrestling around the transition period illustrates the way in which the new strongman of Conakry intends to manage the affairs of the country. Because if he claims to wish to maintain the dialogue with ECOWAS, Mamadi Doumbouya considers that the transition is above all an internal question. “We are very attached to ECOWAS, of which we are a founding member. (…) We understand that it shows firmness in the face of the army’s takeover, but we are not politicians, we are simply coming to give power back to the people of Guinea” he declared in April 2021. A few months earlier, the colonel had rejected the attempt at mediation initiated by ECOWAS in the country through the Guinean diplomat Mohamed Ibn Chambas. “The appointment of a special envoy does not seem to us to be appropriate or urgent, insofar as no internal crisis, likely to compromise the normal course of the Transition, is observed”, he had then declared in a letter addressed to the leader of the organization, the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo. Unfailing support for Bamako Another subject of friction is the strong support of the Guinean leader for Colonel Assimi Goïta in Mali. While ECOWAS imposes an economic embargo against the country in January 2022, Guinea is the only member country to keep its borders open to it. Excluded like its neighbor from ECOWAS authorities since the military putsch, Guinea then explains that it refuses to apply the sanctions on the grounds that it has not had a say. While the leaders of ECOWAS met on Wednesday in New York to discuss Malian and Guinean issues, Mamadi Doumbouya was received with great fanfare in Bamako by Colonel Assimi Goïta, to mark the 62nd anniversary of independence. about the 46 soldiers still detained by Bamako necessarily goes badly vis-à-vis ECOWAS”, analyzes Alioune Tine, founder of the think tank Afrikajom and independent expert of the UN in Mali. “It is perceived as one more snub in an already very tense context”. Paved in the pond in New York The accumulation of tensions between the two parties burst into the open on Wednesday following the interview of the president of ECOWAS, Umaro Sissoco Embalo to France 24 and RFI. The president of Guinea-Bissau, who defends the project of an “anti-coup force” on the continent, aroused the anger of the Guinean authorities by affirming that they had committed themselves to reducing the transition to a maximum duration of two years. 12:50 An exit described as “shame” and “lie”, by Conakry which castigated a diplomacy of “guignols”. “Even before this pass of arms, the sanctions had become inevitable in any case”, judge Alioune Tine . “The Guinean soldiers knew from the start that by taking such a trajectory, they were exposing themselves to ECOWAS sanctions. But they think they can withstand the shock because, unlike Mali, they have direct maritime access and are not members. of WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union) which had imposed the economic embargo against Bamako. On the political level, on the other hand, this standoff is a risky game because the intransigence of Mamadi Doumbouya arouses more and more criticism within the population”. In recent months, in the capital Conakry, several demonstrations have been organized by a citizens’ movement demanding more transparency in the management of the transition. In July and then in August, these gatherings turned into riots, killing several people and injuring dozens. For their part, the Guinean leaders continue to pose as a bulwark against interference. We want to work with ECOWAS, but our relations “must not be the subject of a dictate” aimed at “constraining the Guinean people”, reaffirmed Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, government spokesperson, on Thursday. In its press release, ECOWAS called on Guinea to accept “a reasonable transition period” within a month, under penalty of more severe sanctions.
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