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Guinea coup leaders meet mining execs as ECOWAS talks next steps

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Guinea’s military rulers have held talks with mining executives as part of a series of meetings to chart its political future, just as West Africa’s main regional bloc held an emergency summit to discuss the uncertainty gripping the country in the wake of a coup earlier this month that removed President Alpha Conde.

The power grab on September 5 drew international condemnation, and also saw the price of aluminium reach its highest level in more than a decade. Guinea is one of the world’s top producers of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminium.

On Thursday, an official working in Guinea for Russian aluminium giant Rusal told the AFP news agency that talks between coup leader, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, and mining company representatives in the capital, Conakry, had been “promising”.

“Everything is stable, business is going on,” he said. “It’s just a transition period we are going through.”

Doumbouya has promised to form an inclusive government that will steer a transition to civilian rule, but he has resisted committing to a timetable. He has also said he would listen to the international community and honour their agreements if the agreements respect the country’s “integrity,” “dignity”, and “sovereignty.”

Doumbouya also sought to reassure an alarmed mining industry after the coup, promising to uphold existing agreements. He repeated this message at the closed-door meeting with the executives, according to Alexander Alferink, an attendee who works in the gold industry.

“We were very comforted by the continuity,” he said.

Fode Konate, a gold-mining executive, also said that Doumbouya had guaranteed to protect the security of mining operations.

The meeting was part of a series of talks between the military rulers, politicians, religious, business and civil-society leaders, which are due to end on Friday and are intended to pave a return to civilian rule.

It also came as leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc were meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra, to decide how to respond to the coup.

The 15-nation group has condemned the coup and has suspended Guinea from its decision-making bodies. Its leaders were to hear a report from a ministerial mission that went to Conakry on Friday to meet the military rulers.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is ECOWAS chairman, said in remarks before a closed-door session that he hoped the heads of state will help offer durable solutions to the crisis.

ECOWAS already has said it will impose penalties on Guinea’s military rulers unless they immediately release Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since the coup.

Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway told reporters late on Wednesday that the military rulers have set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of ECOWAS, but declined to disclose what they are.

The bloc’s delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she added, the deposed president was still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been overthrown after more than a decade in power.

“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that, mentally, we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.

Separately on Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said it was closely monitoring the situation in Guinea and called for a peaceful resolution.

Spokesman Gerry Rice said the global lender had completed fifth and sixth reviews of its programmes in the country in December, and provided assistance to help it to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Events are unfolding there. We’re closely monitoring it, and urging a peaceful resolution as soon as possible,” Rice told a regular IMF briefing.



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