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ECOWAS discusses next steps over Guinea crisis

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Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


Leaders from the West African bloc known as ECOWAS met in Accra on Thursday to discuss the political crisis in Guinea, described by the chairman of the group as a "burning issue in the region".

The group has said it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases deposed President Alpha Conde.

Conde has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.

"We are required to take informed decisions on these matters that will have long term consequences for the stability and the defence of the democratic values of our region" said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, president of Ghana and Chairman of ECOWAS group, during the opening ceremony in Accra.

Guinea's coup leaders have set a number of conditions for releasing the deposed president, the foreign minister of Ghana said, ahead of the summit where West African leaders are likely to consider sanctions, based on the report made by the delegation that visited Conakry last week.

Meanwhile in Conakry, junta leaders were set to meet Thursday with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea's political future.

Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country's most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world's largest reserves of bauxite.

Guinea's coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.

Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him.

He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.

At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea's first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.