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Latest update : 2008-12-25

The military junta attempting to hold a coup in Guinea on Wednesday named a middle-ranking army officer Captain Moussa as their new president. The group said they intend to hold democratic elections in 2010.

Reuters - Military officers who have staged a coup in Guinea said on Wednesday they were installing Captain Moussa Dadis Camara as president, but promised to hold elections in two years.


They seemed to be unopposed as they headed to the presidency building in downtown Conakry to install Camara, who had earlier appeared on television as the chief spokesman of the coup junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD).


Pro-coup officers said Camara, a little-known army officer, was appointed junta chief at a meeting held at the country's main military base, Camp Alpha Yaya Diallo.


"We're accompanying the president of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) into town," one of the officers told Reuters. A crowd gathered along the route to the palace, waiting for Camara to pass.


Earlier, the West African state's top civilian leader, National Assembly President Aboubacar Sompare, who under the constitution should be taking over as interim head of state, appealed to the world to prevent the coup from succeeding.


There had been confusion over who was running the world's No. 1 exporter of aluminium ore bauxite two days after the death of long-serving President Lansana Conte. His death left a power vacuum and triggered a coup bid by a group of officers.


The pro-coup forces appeared to be moving freely and unopposed around the sprawling capital Conakry and were arresting potential opponents, witnesses and police sources said. One heavily-armed group entered the central bank.


The coup junta, which on Tuesday announced the suspension of the constitution and the government, defended its move as "a civic act ... to save a people in distress".


"The National Council for Democracy and Development commits to organise credible and transparent elections for the end of December 2010," Moussa Dadis Camara, wearing uniform and a red beret, said in a televised statement.

Some support

Although Guinea's civilian government leaders and the armed forces chief, General Diarra Camara, have opposed the coup, some citizens said they supported the takeover by the military.


"The coup is a good thing, otherwise the old leaders would carry on their dirty business of looting the state," said electrician Naby Laye Traore.


The United Nations, African Union, European Union and United States have all condemned the latest breakdown in democracy in Africa, which follows post-election turmoil in Kenya and Zimbabwe and an August military coup in Mauritania.


"The international community must mobilise to prevent the military from interrupting the democratic process as laid down by the constitution," Sompare said. He said the coup-plotters were hunting for him, but he was in "a safe place".


Loyalist armed forces chief Diarra Camara had attempted to open negotiations with the coup leaders to persuade them to stay loyal to the constitution, which foresees elections being held within two months of the death of the president.


"The whole of Africa and the world is watching us," Diarra Camara told Radio France International


Earlier the junta announced the names of its 32 members, six of them civilians. They included General Mamadou "Toto" Camara, head of the land army, officers from the main army base, camp Alpha Yaya Diallo in Conakry, and at least one from the elite "red berets" presidential guard.


In the power vacuum left by the death of Conte, the diabetic chain-smoking general who had ruled with an iron fist since seizing power in 1984, it was still not clear who would eventually emerge to take full control of the country.


The African Union Peace and Security Council met in Addis Ababa and expressed strong opposition to the coup.


Analysts predicted the passing of Conte, who had relied on the fractious military to keep him in power and survived a number of coup plots, would trigger renewed instability marked by military, political and possibly inter-ethnic infighting.


"Expect several months of political chaos with a high possibility of further coups, counter coups, and sham elections amid a period of ethnic and political disequilibrium," Sebastian Spio-Garbrah of the Eurasia Group consultancy said.


The country's important bauxite mining operations and shipments, run by major international companies, were not immediately affected by the latest crisis.


Date created : 2008-12-24