Bissau – The chair of a West African regional bloc said at a briefing with France’s president on Thursday that Guinea would cut its transition to civilian rule from three to two years.
But Conakry has yet to confirm the announcement made by Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who is acting head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“I was in Conakry with the president of the commission (of ECOWAS) to make the military junta understand the decision of the summit of heads of state that the transition cannot exceed 24 months”, Embalo said at a media briefing in Bissau alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.
“They had proposed 36 months, but we succeeded in convincing them,” he added.
ALSO READ | Ecowas hardens stance on Mali, Guinea
An ECOWAS official added on condition of anonymity: “The principle is accepted but we were waiting to formalise it… before announcing it.”
Guinean authorities have not responded to AFP’s requests for comment.
A junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, which overthrew President Alpha Conde in September last year, has pledged to hand over power to elected civilians within three years.
But regional powers have rejected this timeline, with ECOWAS suspending Guinea after the coup.
West African mediators last week met Guinea’s ruling junta for talks on a return to civilian rule, according to ECOWAS and state media.
Embalo, Gambian diplomat Omar Alieu Touray, who is the president of the bloc’s commission, and Benin’s former president Thomas Boni Yayi, the ECOWAS mediator for Guinea, were all present.
Protests in Conakry
Earlier in July, ECOWAS leaders had met in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss transitions to civilian rule in Guinea, as well as Mali and Burkina Faso, which together have undergone four coups since August 2020.
They lifted tough sanctions that had been imposed on Mali’s military regime, accepting a March 2024 return to civilian rule.
And they agreed to allow Burkina Faso two years for its transition back to democracy.
But discussions until then had been trickier with the rulers of Guinea, where the junta had announced a 36-month transition – a period that African Union chairman and Senegalese President Macky Sall described as “unthinkable”.
On Thursday, protests against Guinea’s military leaders brought Conakry to a standstill.
The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of political parties, trade unions and civil society organisations, called the demonstrations to denounce the junta’s “unilateral management” of any return to civilian rule.
Other parties and coalitions joined the protests.
The junta in May banned public demonstrations, and Thursday’s protests led to sporadic clashes between demonstrators and police.