Guinea

Guineans welcome deal on junta chief, poll plans

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16 Jan 2010 17:59:56 GMT

Source: Reuters

(Adds dropped name at start of fifth paragraph)

* Guineans welcome military's deal on junta chief

* Population now looking for swift transition

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Guineans have broadly welcomed a decision by their military rulers to keep wounded junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara convalescing abroad, leaving his deputy and an opposition leader to restore civilian rule.

The announcement on Friday, and the civilian opposition's agreement after days of wrangling on two candidates for the prime minister's job, have eased concerns at home and abroad over further violence in the world's top bauxite exporter.

"This is a very important development which is making things look up for the country," said Mamadou Bah Baddiko, head of the UFD opposition group.

"The priorities now need to be getting a grip of the state, winning the confidence of the population and ... putting the electoral process back on track," he added.

Camara's second-in-command Sekouba Konate became interim leader when Camara was shot on Dec. 3 in a botched assassination attempt by his former aide-de-camp.

Credited with restoring some order to the military, he must now decide whether Jean Marie Dore or Rabiatou Serah Diallo, is given the job of overseeing a transition to elections within six months, ending the military rule that began with a coup in 2008.

Under the agreement signed on Friday, junta members, as well as civilians involved in the transitional administration, are barred from taking part in the elections.

ERRATIC RULE

Having enjoyed a tide of support immediately after his coup, Camara's increasingly erratic rule and apparent desire to stand in elections fuelled opposition. He is accused of crimes against humanity for a security operation against his opponents that left over 150 people dead in September.

"This agreement gives us hope," said Naby Diallo, a trader in Guinea's capital, Conakry. "We were utterly disgusted and exhausted by the manoeuvres of these soldiers who didn't want to leave power.

"I'm hoping to be able to get my business back up and running very soon if this transition succeeds."

Some international mining firms have cut back on the number of expatriate workers in Guinea while a government document seen by Reuters last month showed that the instability had slashed the output of aluminium ore bauxite by one fifth in 2009.

The two candidates for the prime minister's job were due to travel on Saturday to Burkina Faso, whose President Blaise Compaore has acted as mediator in the Guinea crisis.

Camara left Morocco this week, hoping to return to Guinea after more than a month in hospital. However, he was taken only as far as Burkina Faso as pressure mounted on mediators to prevent a return home that many feared could spark violence.

Before the assassination attempt, analysts say Camara had been seeking to shore up his position by training a militia force dominated by people from his eastern homelands.

Although seemingly a minority, some Guineans, especially those from this region, are still keen to see Camara return.

"This deal amounts to treason. Dadis (Camara) is the victim, he has been swept aside," complained Pepe Kolie. (Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Charles Dick)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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