Military overthrew President Alpha Conde's government over the weekend, drawing widespread condemnation.

The Guinean Special Forces arrive at the Palace of the People in Conakry on September 6, 2021, ahead of a meeting with the Ministers of the Ex-President of Guinea, Alpha Conde. Guinean special forces seized power in a coup on September 5, 2021
The Guinean Special Forces arrive at the Palace of the People in Conakry on September 6, 2021, ahead of a meeting with the Ministers of the Ex-President of Guinea, Alpha Conde. Guinean special forces seized power in a coup on September 5, 2021 (AFP)

West African bloc ECOWAS has decided to suspend Guinea's membership following a military coup in the country, a top regional diplomat said on Wednesday, urging a return to "normal constitutional order".

Leaders from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an extraordinary video summit to discuss the turmoil in Guinea.

After the meeting, Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Alpha Barry, who participated, said that ECOWAS "has decided to suspend Guinea from all its decision-making bodies".

In a statement to reporters in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, Barry added that ECOWAS will request the African Union and United Nations to "endorse" its decision.

The bloc has also demanded that Guinea's military release Conde, Barry said, and to "put in place a process that will allow a rapid return to normal constitutional order".

Special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized power in the West African state on Sunday and arrested President Alpha Conde, sparking international condemnation.

Conde, 83, had come under increasing fire for perceived authoritarianism, with dozens of opposition activists arrested after a violently disputed election last year.

But the putsch in Guinea has sparked fears of democratic backsliding across West Africa - where military strongmen are an increasingly familiar sight.

READ MORE: Guinea army stages coup, detains President Conde

A mediation mission from the regional bloc is due to arrive in Guinea on Thursday. 

When faced with a similar predicament in Mali last year, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on the country, but lifted them after Mali's ruling military committed to restoring civilian rule.

READ MORE: Guinea's junta leader Doumbouya seeks to tighten grip on power

Free and democratic

Public discontent in Guinea had been growing for months over a flatlining Covid-hit economy and the leadership of Conde, who became the first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year, Conde pushed through a new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won the election but the political opposition maintained that the poll was a sham.

Guinea's military on Tuesday freed about 80 political opponents of Conde's who had been detained during the turbulent electoral period.

READ MORE: Turkey calls for immediate restoration of constitution in Guinea

The coup has triggered broad diplomatic condemnation, including from the African Union, European Union and the United States.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies