ECOWAS tried to stop Alpha Condé from changing Guinea constitution, says Ayorkor Botchwey

The Foreign Affairs Minister says ECOWAS sent a delegation to Guinea to engage Condé but failed

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) tried on several occasions to stop Alpha Condé from changing Guinea’s constitution.

President Condé of Guinea, deposed on 5 September, changed the country’s constitution to seek a third term in office.

Botchwey was addressing a press conference in the lead-up to an ECOWAS Heads of State summit in Accra on Thursday.

The minister said reports that the sub-regional block had looked on and failed to prevent Condé from going ahead to change the constitution are inaccurate.

Paddling beneath the surface

“What you see from the outside is that everybody is relaxed. That is not the case: there is a lot of engagement,” she told journalists on Wednesday.

“If we take the example of Guinea, if you recall, there was a referendum after the change of constitution … ECOWAS did not sit aloof and watch this happen.

“We engaged and I was even part of delegations that went there, sent by heads of state to engage with all stakeholders and to try and stop this … and engage with the president as well. But unfortunately, it did not happen,” the minister said.

She added: “When something like this happens let’s not assume that behind the scenes there is nothing happening.

“I can assure you that when anything of the sort happens, behind the scenes the heads of state, knowing fully well … that the country has signed on the protocol or the charter, but also is a sovereign state, … we have done everything behind the scenes with that colleague to engage.”

Leaders meet in Accra

Meanwhile, West African leaders will meet on Thursday to decide how to respond to the coup in Guinea and how to pressure the junta leaders to return the country to constitutional rule, the Foreign Minister said.

The 15-member ECOWAS has condemned the putsch that overthrew President Alpha Condé on 5 September. It was the third coup in West and Central Africa since April.

The bloc suspended Guinea from the decision-making bodies of the organisation last week and sent a mission to meet the coup leaders.

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