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West Africa bloc, UN envoys arrive in Guinea

CONAKRY (AFP) – Envoys from the United Nations (UN) and the West Africa bloc ECOWAS arrived in Guinea on Sunday to “take stock” after last year’s military coup, senior officials said.

Guinea’s military ousted the West African state’s elected president Alpha Conde in September 2021 after months of brewing discontent with his government, defying international condemnation of the putsch.

Led by ex-special forces commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the ruling junta has pledged to restore democracy but has so far refused to commit to an electoral timetable.

On Sunday, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN special representative for West Africa and the Sahel, arrived in Guinea’s capital Conakry for talks with the junta.

The visit follows a December statement from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that urged elections within six months.

Kassi Brou, upon arrival in Conakry airport, told reporters that the diplomatic delegations were in the country to “take stock”. Annadif gave a similar account, telling the press that he believed the visit “will enable us to move forward”.

The envoys were due to meet junta leaders as well as representatives from civil society and political parties, before departing Guinea yesterday.

Ghana’s Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway is also expected to attend the talks, Kassi Brou said.

Guinea’s coup has fuelled concerns about democratic backsliding across West Africa.

The nation of 13 million people is one of three countries in the region where the military seized power in the last 18 months, along with Mali and Burkina Faso.

ECOWAS has suspended all three countries from the bloc’s activities over the coups.