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Army stages coup after president's death

Article published on the 2008-12-23 Latest update 2008-12-24 10:11 TU

Late on Monday, Guinea's President Lansana Conté died at the age of 74 after an illness. He had been in power since 1984. Speaking on national radio, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara said the constitution had been suspended since "the institutions of the republic have shown themselves to be incapable of resolving the crises which have been confronting the country".

The government and institutions have also been dissolved the captain said. They have been replaced by a "consultative council".

In his address, Dadis Camara pointed to the country's rating among the poorest of the world, despite fifty years of independance that were celebrated recently.

He said that despite immense natural resources, Guinea was plagued by corruption, a catastrophic economic situation and blamed the members of the current government for being unwilling to undertake reform.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, correspondent Karim Kamara had said "People are jittery, people are quite afraid because of insecurity because of also [...] instability in the country especially the business community."

Later on Tuesday morning government ministers and officials were summoned to a base near the country's international airport. This, "to guarantee their safety" according to a radio statement.

Army officers said they had taken power and said Guineans were "to stay at home and refrain from all acts of vandalism and looting". It also said public assemblies were forbidden.

Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare on Tuesday told the coup plotters to back down. "I am sure they will see reason. They have not used force. There has been no threat against anybody".

Parliamentary speaker Aboubacar Sompare said the "vast majority" of the military was loyal to the government.

Some soldiers said the coup had chosen Lieutenant-Colonel Sekouba Konate as leader. There is reported to be disagreement over the person that the coup is seeking to install.


Burkina Faso: President Blaise Compaore called for the "restoration of democracy and the state of law".

Liberia: National security forces are on high alert. The country's Justice Minister, Philip Banks, described the move as "preventative measures".

Nigeria: President Umaru Yar'Adua said "any government that emerges by undemocratic means will not be recognised" and demanded that "democratic order be restored in Guinea immediately".

Ecowas: The Economic Community of West African States said it would suspend the membership of Guinea if the coup succeeded. Executive Secretary Mohamed ibn Chambas described the group's attitude as "zero tolerance".

African Union: The AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping strongly condemned "the announcement of the seizure of power [...] by elements of the Guinean armed forces and their subsequent decision to suspend the Constitution and various institutions of Guinea".

EU: Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian aid Louis Michel told RFI "a coup is always illegitimate and illegal". "This coup in Guinea for us is the same as in Mauritania. We cannot and will not accept it," he said.

UN: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "stressed the need for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power" according to a spokesperson. The UN Special Envoy to West Africa Said Djinnit called on "the concerned parties to observe restraint and preserve peace".