- The West African bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended Guinea from all meetings at its Heads of States and ministerial levels until constitutional order has been restored. Guinean government was ousted in December last year after the death of president Lansana Conte who ruled the country for more than two decades.
According to a communiqué issued by the extra-ordinary summit of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria, over the weekend, ECOWAS leaders said the punitive action is to press the Guinean junta to return the country to constitutional democracy.
The summit which was convened to examine the latest developments in Guinea, following the death of the late General Conte, acknowledged steps taken by Guinean stakeholders towards the early restoration of constitutional order, but however said until order is restored, the bloc will not associate itself with the Guinean junta.
Last week, Guinea's ruling military pledged to hold elections by the end of 2009, a move praised by locals including some other international organisations for early restoration of constitutional rule.
The regional body has however assured the country of its support in its effort to restore democratic rule, also vowing to maintain a dialogue with the government to fast-track the return of democratic government.
The communiqué said the bloc’s principles enshrined in the Protocol, which all members are party to, calls for zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means.
The communiqué further recognised the commitment of the transitional authorities to respect human rights and the rule of law, as well as to fight against impunity and drug trafficking.
In Guinea drugs have become a general security issue with narco-dollars altering the already weak economy.
United Nations estimates that at least 50 tonnes of cocaine are shipped through the West African region every year.
The bloc has also agreed to push for the promotion and the inclusion of Guinea on the agenda of the United Nations Peace Building Commission as a de facto fragile and post conflict country to allow it benefit from the UN Peace Building Fund.
ECOWAS has also agreed that along with the international community, it will facilitate the completion of the voter registration exercise and the provision of voter identification cards to facilitate the holding of elections in 2009 and also facilitate the mobilisation of the required resources for the exercise.
Mr Conte, who died last Month, at the age of 74, had ruled Guinea for almost 25 years, since taking power in a military coup in 1984. While Mr Conté ruled Guinea with an iron hand, allowing no real opposition, the country remained an island of relative stability in an otherwise troubled region, where brutal war ravaged neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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