Ibn Chambas, the former special representative and head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, said he feels "disappointment" after military members arrested Guinean President Alpha Conde, seizing control of the country in Sunday.
VOA's James Butty spoke to Chambas about the apparent coup in Guinea and how it may affect the West African nation's regional reputation.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: What is your reaction to the coup?
Chambas: I feel a sense of disappointment. It's a sad event that has happened in Guinea. It’s a reversal of the democratic march of West Africa, of Africa. Another military intervention in politics on the African continent doesn't augur well for the consolidation of democracy, the establishment of stable constitutional governance. So, certainly I feel disappointed that things have taken this turn in Guinea.
VOA: Does ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) bear some responsibility because the military takeover in Guinea did not happen in a vacuum?
Chambas: No, this is an internal Guinean process which has not gone well. ECOWAS along with other actors such as the African Union, the United Nations and many partners — particularly in the period from 2019 to 2020 leading up to the referendum to amend the constitution of Guinea and to allow the president to extend his mandate — all these partners were involved, trying in different ways to dissuade the president from proceeding with an extension of his mandate without success.
VOA: Do you think ECOWAS will recognize the military junta in Guinea?”
Chambas: ECOWAS has to be faithful to its principles, its protocols. ECOWAS has a very well established and known policy of zero tolerance for military coup d'etat. So, there's no way that the current situation can be accepted by the authority of heads of state and government of ECOWAS. I expect that the coup d'etat will be condemned. And, of course, there will be calls for the release of the president and other detained Guineans.