AFP / Conakry
Guinea’s military strongman opened a four-day series of talks yesterday, intended to pave a return to civilian rule after a coup that one attendee said he blamed on “the failure of the entire political and military class”.
Coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power on September 5, addressed political leaders in a closed-door meeting inside parliament in the capital Conakry.
According to several people who attended the session, he was an attentive listener.
Doumbouya told attendees the coup was the result of “the failure of the entire political and military class”, according to Sidya Toure, a former prime minister who was at the meeting.
The nation’s leaders had “betrayed the values of independence”, Toure reported Doubouya as saying.
The junta, which has come under intense diplomatic pressure since seizing power on September 5 from president Alpha Conde, later held talks with religious leaders.
It will then meet civil-society figures, diplomats, trade unionists and mining executives through to Friday.
Soon after seizing power, Doumbouya accused the Conde government of “trampling citizens’ rights” and pledged to form a government of “national unity” that will guarantee a transition.
But what exactly he has in mind remains unclear — and there are questions about how long the military intends to cling to power.
Papa Koly Kourouma, a former prime minister under Conde, said that further meetings were needed to come up with more substantial proposals.
“It was a first contact and must be taken as such,” he said.
The putsch came amid rising criticism in Guinea of Conde, 83, for his perceived authoritarianism, but nevertheless sparked broad international condemnation.
It raised fears about democratic backsliding in the region, following a similar coup in Mali last year.
West Africa bloc Ecowas and the African Union suspended Guinea after the putsch.
The United Nations, the European Union and the United States also condemned it.
Guinea’s neighbours and trading partners, concerned about instability in the mineral-rich country, will be watching this week’s consultation closely. All of the country’s main political parties — including Conde’s RPG party — said they would participate.
In a televised statement on Monday evening, the junta announced they would be reopening all of the nation’s land borders from today.
Some had been shut after the coup, others before elections last year, officially for security reasons, a move that had caused diplomatic tensions with neighbouring countries.
The junta also said that a so-called draft charter on the transition will be drawn up at the end of this week’s consultation.
Details remain scarce.
It is not clear what form the transitional government will take, nor how long it will last, nor what the role the military might play.
Guinea’s putschists quickly dissolved the government and the constitution after the coup. That constitution had been at the centre of political tensions under Conde.
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