POLITICAL leaders in Guinea have reacted angrily after the country’s military leaders spurned demands by West Africa’s regional bloc to spell out a timeline for restoring civilian rule.
The military is locked in a showdown with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had set a deadline of Monday for putting forward an ‘acceptable’ timetable for transition, failing which it would impose economic and financial sanctions.
But in an interview with Fim FM radio station on Monday, government spokesman Ousmane Gaoual Diallo said strongman Colonel Mamady Doumbouya gave little heed to the demand.
‘We didn’t hand over a document (on a timetable) and we have been clear about this from the start, that the Guinean government does not act under the constraints or the diktat of anyone,’ Goual said.
ECOWAS ‘should take a look at itself,’ he said, accusing the bloc of turning a deaf ear to ‘the cries of the Guinean public’ during repression under Alpha Conde, the elected president toppled in a coup last year.
Asked whether Guinea would pull out of ECOWAS, he said, ‘Nothing is being ruled out.’
Leading political figures on Tuesday condemned the junta’s response.
‘It would be dangerous for Guinea to be a victim’ of sanctions that would further damage its economy, said Saikou Barry of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR) — part of an umbrella group called the G58 that was in opposition during Conde’s tenure.
‘Guineans will never accept a junta withdrawing us from a regional institution,’ he told AFP. The country’s new authorities were guilty of ‘capriciousness’ and a ‘haughty tone,’ he added.
‘Amateur politicians today are starting to spout anything,’ a leader of Conde’s RPG party said, describing the pull-out threat as ‘really irresponsible.’
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing ‘the national political situation.’
Guinea’s coup last September came on the heels of a military takeover in Mali.
ECOWAS has slapped sanctions on members of the Mali junta, shut its borders with the country, frozen its assets at the Central Bank of West African States and imposed a trade embargo.
For Guinea, leading junta members have been sanctioned and are subject to a travel ban within the bloc.
A third ECOWAS member, Burkina Faso, experienced a coup in January.
It has so far escaped the sanctions handed out to Guinea and Mali but was also given until Monday to spell out an ‘acceptable transition timetable.’
The Burkinabe junta has said it stands by a three-year schedule for holding elections, arguing that it first has to deal with a bloody jihadist insurgency.