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Ivorian President in Conakry to meet with Guinea's junta

Allassane Outtara in Conakry Friday September 17 2021   -  
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A delegation of west African leaders have arrived Guinea on Friday, a day after regional bloc ECOWAS urged rapid elections following a coup in the fragile country.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was received in Conakry on Friday by Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, leader of the coup that ousted former Guinean President Alpha Conde on September 5. He is part of a delegation of west African leaders sent by regional bloc ECOWAS.

An ECOWAS official, who requested anonymity, told AFP that ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou would likely take part too in the talks.

The trip comes after an ECOWAS summit on Thursday which ramped up pressure on Guinea's putschists called for the junta to hold elections within six months. They also imposed a travel ban on junta members, and froze their financial assets.

Guinea's putsch has fuelled international concerns over democratic backsliding across west Africa and drawn parallels with Mali, which suffered two coups since August last year.

Coup leader Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has not yet responded to the call for elections from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This week, he held meetings over several days with political and civil-society figures, in talks intended to pave a return to civilian rule.

But Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, has so far refused to commit to a timetable.

"The only timetable that counts is that of the Guinean people who have suffered so much," he told political leaders in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

Guinea is a poor nation of 13 million people, which has suffered three coups since independence from France in 1958.

The country has some of the world's largest reserves of bauxite -- the ore used to make aluminium -- as well as rich deposits of iron, gold and diamonds.

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