West African leaders agreed at an emergency summit Thursday to impose gradual sanctions on Guinea’s junta over its inflexibility on setting a date to return to civilian rule.
“We have decided to take sanctions against Guinea,” Omar Alieu Touray, president of the commission of the ECOWAS bloc, told AFP.
The leaders from the Economic Community of West African States – minus those of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso, suspended due to coups – met in New York where they were attending the UN General Assembly. A summary of the meeting said the leaders agreed on “gradual sanctions” on a list of people linked to the Guinean junta who will be identified “very soon” by the bloc’s leadership.
Poor but mineral-rich Guinea has been ruled by the military since a coup in September 2021 that ousted President Alpha Conde, in power since 2010.
Guinea’s junta-appointed prime minister, Bernard Gomou, earlier slammed ECOWAS chief Umaro Sissoco Embalo, describing him as a “puppet wearing the mantle of a statesman.”
In a statement, Gomou said Embalo, who is also president of Guinea-Bissau, was an “overexcited” man who “forced his way in” to the ECOWAS presidency.
The prime minister also pointed to the two countries’ geographical closeness and blood ties but warned, “no political upstart, let alone a badly briefed opportunist, will lead us to destroy this precious heritage.”
During a visit to Guinea, Embalo said he had secured an agreement with the junta to give way to elected civilians after two years.
Three years in power before a return to civilian rule is “unacceptable for ECOWAS,” Embalo said on Wednesday in an interview with France’s RFI and France 24 broadcasters. He warned that if the junta maintained that timetable, there would be sanctions – “heavy sanctions, even.”
Colonel Amara Camara, a senior junta figure, said in a video received by AFP, “crude lies and intimidation are backward steps that dishonor (Embalo) and at the same time tarnish ECOWAS’ image.” The West Africa bloc has been struggling with a string of military coups in the region in the past two years.