Accra, Sept. 15, GNA - West African civil society groups have called for an inclusive dialogue for the restoration of democratic governance in Guinea.
The civil society groups, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, said they were mindful of the Region’s past, which was characterized by coup d’etats and autocratic rule and “deeply” concerned about recent political developments in Guinea.
"While we acknowledge with dismay and disappointment the erosion of democracy in Guinea during the last few years leading to the September 5th, 2021 coup d’etat, we remain resolute in our disapproval of unconstitutional and undemocratic changes of government."
The Civil Society Organizations include; the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Accra, Ghana; the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Accra, Ghana; the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Accra, Ghana; and the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Accra, Ghana.
The rest are; Afrobarometer, Accra, Ghana; Stat View International, Conakry, Guinea; Centre for Democracy and Development, West Africa (CDD West Africa), Nigeria; National Election Watch, Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Council on Foreign Relations-Ghana, Accra.
The statement said the history of the Region demonstrated that an unconstitutional termination of democracy was not the path to social or economic progress; instead, such events turned back the clock of progress and sowed seeds of further instability, conflict, and underdevelopment.
"We are aware that, since the National Rally and Development Committee (CNRD) took over the reins of government, there have been expressions of support for the September fifth coup d’état from sections of Guinean society," it said.
"We hasten to emphasize, however, that the popular sentiments that have greeted the coup d’etat do not represent a rejection of democracy or an approval of military rule by the Guinean people; they merely reflect the widespread disappointment and betrayal that Guineans felt about the ousted Government of President Alpha Conde."
It said Afrobarometer findings showed consistently that large majorities of Guineans preferred democracy (77 per cent) to any other kind of government and rejected authoritarian alternatives, including military
Significantly, roughly eight in 10 Guineans (82 per cent) endorsed free, fair, and honest elections as the best way to choose leaders.
"We, therefore, call upon CNRD to embrace and initiate dialogue with diverse sections of Guinean society and chart an inclusive process – with a clear transition timetable – to restore Guinea to the democratic path," it said.
"We further implore CNRD to put in place appropriate safeguards and processes to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law, protection of the rights of media, journalists, and civil society, and absence of attacks or excesses by the military against citizens and
"We also urge our fellow sisters and brothers in Guinean civil society to redouble their commitment to the ideals of democracy and constitutionalism and stand and work in unity to ensure an orderly and a peaceful return to democratic government.
They called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), and the international community to work with CNRD and the Guinean people to help the nation navigate its way back to a democratic and constitutional status.
The statement said ECOWAS having acted swiftly to condemn the coup and called for the restoration of democracy, the regional Body should ensure that all relevant national actors, including civil society groups, women associations, youth networks, and the opposition were given every opportunity to participate fully in any ensuing dialogue and transition process.
It said while immediate attention was rightfully focused on the crisis at hand, the West African civil society groups believed it was also important that regional leaders and stakeholders be reminded of and acknowledged the democratic breaches and ensuing crisis of legitimacy in Guinea that led to the current unfortunate political crisis.
The statement urged ECOWAS and other regional mediators to adopt an approach in their engagement with CNRD and other Guinean stakeholders that took full cognisance of the preceding abuses of power and other authoritarian actions, including the unpopular incumbent prolongation of tenure and related human rights violations.
The groups, therefore, implored ECOWAS to take a firm stance against leaders who abused their incumbency to manipulate constitutions or engineer constitutional changes to remove or modify presidential term limits to cling to power.
The statement said a resolute stance by ECOWAS against such self-serving constitutional changes by incumbents would not only prevent some of the unwarranted, unconstitutional, and unjustified changes of government in the Region, but help strengthen democratic development and advance the interest and aspirations of Community citizens.
"We stand in solidarity with the people of Guinea who want to see a democratic, safe, and prosperous future for their nation and are ready to assist good faith efforts towards the realisation of that goal," the groups said.