CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s longtime opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo is urging the country’s ruling military junta to set up a transitional government and establish a timeframe for holding elections as soon as possible following last week’s coup.
Diallo accused deposed President Alpha Conde of creating his own demise because he sought a third term in office by saying the constitutional term limits did not apply to him.
“He betrayed his oath, by doing so, and he plunged the country into a deep crisis,” Diallo told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday, describing his longtime political foe as a dictator.
“The fact that the military put an end to this illegal and legitimate mandate, I rather welcomed it, even if I did not expect this coup de force at this time,” said Diallo, who had lost to Conde in Guinea’s last three presidential elections.
He stressed, though, that the junta now must prove they do intend to give power back to the people as they promised when they overthrew Conde on Sept. 5.
“I want it to set up as large a transitional government as possible and to organize inclusive elections as soon as possible, within a reasonable period of time, free and transparent for a peaceful return to constitutional order,” he said.
Over the past week, international pressure has mounted on the junta leaders to establish a quick return to democratic rule and to release Conde from their custody.
The African Union and the West African regional economic bloc known as ECOWAS have both suspended Guinea in an effort to ramp up pressure. Diallo said he knows that seizures of power by the military are always condemned but he called on international institutions to work with the junta on the way forward.
“I call on them not to sanction Guinea, but to accompany the new authorities in the rapid return to constitutional order within a reasonable timeframe through the organization of inclusive, free and transparent elections,” he said.
Diallo, who heads the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea party, acknowledged he still hopes to run for president a fourth time.
“I certainly wish to be elected, but I wish there to be inclusive, free and transparent elections so that Guineans can freely choose their leaders both at the level of the Assembly and at the level of the presidency,” he said.
The junta has ordered the central bank to freeze all government accounts in an effort to secure state assets and “preserve the country’s interest.” It has also called for dialogue with various political and civil society groups this week, after meeting with mediators from ECOWAS on Friday.
National reconciliation will be a key step moving forward, he said, adding that it will be up to the new authorities to decide whether Conde faces any criminal charges linked to his time in power.
“There have been many lives lost. There has been a lot of injustice. There has been a lot of violence,” he said. “This has to stop and we have to try to see how we can move toward reconciliation. How to go to forgiveness so that Guinea can really get back on the road of unity and development for all.”
Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.
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