Conakry – An influential Guinean political coalition on Thursday called for renewed demonstrations against the ruling junta despite an ongoing protest ban, a day after regional mediators met with junta leaders over a return to civilian rule.
The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) accused the junta, which seized power in a coup in September 2021, of “contempt and arrogance” and “unilateral management of the transition” process.
The coalition said it would organise “peaceful citizen demonstrations” in the capital Conakry on July 28 and nationwide on August 4, claiming the junta was “systematically refusing” to establish a “credible dialogue”.
It said the demonstrations would denounce the “lack of a framework for dialogue” between the military leaders and political and civil society, as well as the “confiscation of citizens’ rights and freedoms”, such as the right to protest.
The junta in May banned any public demonstrations that could be construed as threatening public order.
The FNDC had called protests for June 23 but later called them off, indicating they were prepared to give the transitional government a “chance” to set a proposed dialogue in motion.
However, their patience snapped after a meeting with the authorities, which the FNDC slammed as a “parody”.
The coalition said the upcoming demonstrations would protest the military government’s refusal to publish the list of its members and declare their assets, and the “instrumentalisation of justice by the junta to humiliate and harass the leaders of civil society and political parties”.
Rocky transition to civilian rule
On Tuesday, opposition leader Oumar Sylla, a member of the FNDC, said he was prevented from boarding a plane to take part in a West African civil society gathering in Senegal.
The Guinean authorities declined to comment on the incident.
Sylla was among three members of the FNDC found not guilty of contempt of court this month over comments they had posted on social media criticising the prosecutor’s office and the military-appointed parliament.
ALSO READ | Guinea political leaders found not guilty
Their arrest had sparked violent protests, some of the first since junta leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya toppled president Alpha Conde last year.
The FNDC coalition had previously been vocal opponents of Conde.
Doumbouya has pledged to restore civilian rule within three years, but the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which suspended Guinea after the coup, has rejected this timeline.
On Wednesday, the acting ECOWAS head, Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, and the president of the bloc’s commission, Gambian diplomat Omar Alieu Touray, met junta leaders for talks on a return to civilian rule, according to a regional bloc and state media.
The ECOWAS mediator for Guinea, Benin’s former president Thomas Boni Yayi, has been in Conakry since Tuesday, an official from the West African bloc said.
Picture: Getty Images