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Archive for Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coup declared in Guinea

December 24, 2008

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— A military group seized control of the airwaves in mineral-rich Guinea and declared a coup Tuesday after the death of the West African country’s dictator, one of the continent’s last strongmen.

The turmoil raises the prospect of violence flaring in a region where neighbors Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia all have been devastated by years of war.

A group calling itself the National Council for Democracy began announcing its takeover on state-run radio and TV just hours after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte was made public.

“The government is dissolved. The institutions of the republic are dissolved. ... From this moment on, the council is taking charge of the destiny of the Guinean people,” said the group’s spokesman, who identified himself as Capt. Moussa Camara.

Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare announced in a state broadcast that he was inside his office and his government had not been dissolved.

Less than an hour later, dozens of armed soldiers were seen heading toward the prime minister’s office inside the country’s presidential compound. Their allegiance was not immediately apparent.

An Associated Press reporter later saw two tanks parked near the compound and a third circulating through the capital. A fourth was parked at the headquarters of state-run radio and TV, where transmissions had been cut.

In his takeover announcement, Moussa Camara said presidential elections would be held within 60 days and an interim president and prime minister would be appointed.

Coup leaders met Tuesday evening to decide which of them will head the interim government, according to Aboubacar Sompare, president of the National Assembly. Later, Moussa Camara announced a 30-member interim government on state-run TV — including 29 military leaders and one civilian.

Sompare told private radio station Sabari FM that there were three candidates being considered to head the interim government, including Moussa Camara, army chief Toto Camara and Col. Sekouba Konate, chief of an elite unit — all three named on Camara’s list.

Guinea’s Army Chief of Staff Gen. Diarra Camara said the motives of the coup leaders were unclear.

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