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Interim president to form national unity govt

Guinea's interim president, General Sekouba Konate (pictured), on Wednesday announced the formation of a "transitional government of national unity". He will accept the opposition's choice of prime minister, he said on Guinean national radio.


Guinea's General Sekouba Konate, leading the country since coup leader Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded in an assassination attempt, has announced that he will form a "transitional government of national unity" and accept the opposition's choice of prime minister.

"We must put in place right now actions that will appease the population,” Konate said in a speech, broadcast on Guinean radio, to leaders of the junta which has held power since a coup in December 2008.

"We will take the choice of a prime minister from the opposition, appointed by the opposition itself, to start negotiations with our civil and political institutions towards creating a transitional government of national unity," he added.

General Konate is Guinea's defence minister as well as interim president of the country following the assasination attempt on junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara on Dec. 3. Camara has made no public appearances or speeches since he was shot and has been in hospital in Morocco ever since.

Hope for democracy?

FRANCE 24 correspondent Melissa Bell, reporting from Kigali in Rwanda, where she is following Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Affairs minister, said the deal offered hope for democracy to return to the beleagured African nation, which saw opposition supporters killed and injured in a brutal crackdown in Sept. 2009.

"At long last a deal has been reached that will allow some sort of stability to resume in Guinea,” Bell said. "We don't know as yet when elections will take place, but that a date will be set in the next few weeks or months."

Cheikh Yerim Seck, West Africa specialist for Francophone weekly newspaper ‘Jeune Afrique’, speaking from Dakar in Senegal, said negotiations were still ongoing as to who the opposition would choose to take the role of prime minister.

A historic opportunity

“A number of names have been put forward,” he told FRANCE 24. “Some people are talking about Jean-Marie Doré, one of Guinea’s historic opposition leaders who has the advantage of being from the same region as Camara, which will placate the junta supporters.

“A second figure is Francois Leuceni Fall, who was himself prime minister for two months in 2004 and has the reputation of being a man of integrity and who has been commissioned as a peace negotiator in the Central African Republic.

“This is a historic opportunity for the opposition to get involved in helping bring democracy back to Guinea.”

As to the fate of Camara himself, Seck believes the formation of a new government will not stop international efforts to indict Camara for crimes against humanity following the mass murders of at least 150 people and rapes at the September opposition rally in a Conakry stadium by the country’s armed forces.

“The UN commission of inquiry is investigating Camara’s personal responsibility. There is absolutely no reason why the investigation should be abandoned.”

Call for return of opposition leaders

Konate also called on opposition leaders who fled the country to return and said he was "guaranteeing the safety of all".

The main opposition leaders, injured in the September crackdown, fled to Europe and other west African countries.

Konate said presidential and legislative elections would be held at a date set by the new transition government.

The first round of presidential polls had been scheduled for January 31.


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