ECOWAS unlikely to impose economic sanctions on Guinea following military coup

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is unlikely to impose economic sanctions on Guinea after a military junta ousted former president Alpha Conde last week, according to a Verisk Maplecroft analyst.

Any economic sanctions would likely only target key officials in the military junta and their assets, so the overall economic impact would be limited, said Africa Research Analyst Eric Humphery-Smith.

“If ECOWAS doesn’t see enough proof of progress in appointing a transitional government and organising democratic elections subsequently…and if ECOWAS deems there’s delays in implementing that, then that’s when the threat of sanctions might come,” he stated.

The regional economic bloc has already suspended Guinea’s membership following the coup, but has power to take further actions to disrupt the new government and its leadership. ECOWAS enforced sanctions on neighbouring Mali in August 2020 after soldiers detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta at the culmination of weeks of civil unrest in the country.

“We saw sanctions on Mali last year as a result of the coup against IBK [Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta] so it’s not unprecedented, but it’s important to note that [any sanctions] would come after a few months,” said Humphery-Smith.

The third coup in central and West Africa this year has been denounced by African leaders for upending the constitutional order, with the African Union following suit in suspending Guinea.

The impact of the coup on Guinea’s mineral-dependent economy remains uncertain. Land and air borders were closed in the immediate aftermath of the takeover, raising fears of disruptions to the global supply of bauxite, of which Guinea accounts for 20%.