Guinea suspended from West African bloc over coup

Guinea has been suspended from West Africa's main political and economic bloc following the weekend military coup that ousted President Alpha Conde.

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, held a virtual summit on Wednesday (September 8) to discuss the situation.

Burkina Faso's foreign minister Alpha Barry said ECOWAS was demanding a return to constitutional order and the immediate release of Conde and others who were arrested.

"A high-level mission should be sent by ECOWAS to Guinea, as of tomorrow, in order to speak with the new authorities. And after this mission, ECOWAS should be able to re-examine their positions, but for now, ECOWAS has decided to suspend Guinea from all the decision-making instances of ECOWAS. We ask that this decision be endorsed by the African Union and the United Nations."

Barry did not announce any immediate economic sanctions, as ECOWAS did with Mali's coup last year.

Some experts say ECOWAS's leverage over Guinea is limited as it's not landlocked like Mali, nor is it a member of the West African currency union.

Guinea's coup leader Mamady Doumbouya has promised a unified, transitional government but has not yet said when or how this will happen.

At least 80 political prisoners were released on Tuesday (September 7) evening - many had campaigned against a constitutional change which allowed Conde to stand for a third term.

The military has also been dismantling forward posts.

They were used at the height of the protests against the constitutional change to house police and soldiers.

Located in different neighborhoods of the capital Conakry, they facilitated rapid responses.

Doumbouya has also met with heads of Guinea's various military branches as he hopes to unify the country's armed forces under the junta's command.

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