Guinea coup, Guinea takeover, Moussa Camera
Bebeto Matthews/AP
Deposed dictator Lansana
Conte, in 1999

African Union Suspends Guinea While Junta Picks PM After Coup

December 30, 2008 12:02 PM
by Josh Katz
A week after the military coup in Guinea, the African Union has suspended the country from the group, and the junta has named a prime minister: Kabine Komara.

Guinea Suspended From AU

On Monday, the African Union announced the suspension of Guinea from the organization following the coup in the country last week.

"The peace and security council of the AU on Monday decided to suspend the participation of Guinea in the activities of the AU until the return to constitutional order in that country," the AU council said in a statement, according to Reuters. It went on to say that, "The AU reiterates its firm condemnation of the coup d'etat, which is a flagrant violation of the constitution of Guinea."

Guinea's military leaders have also named Kabine Komara as the new prime minister. He had previously worked at the Egypt-based African Export-Import Bank as an executive, the BBC reports.

Trade unions advocated for Komara as prime minister two years ago after weeks of fierce protests under the presidency of Lansana Conte.

The former government initially resisted the coup, but when it became clear that the public generally backed the military's efforts, the government pledged support to coup leader Capt. Moussa Camara.

The AU has not placed sanctions on Guinea, but says the military leaders have six months to bring back a constitutional government.

Over the weekend, the junta said it would halt mining activities in the bauxite-rich country, and would renegotiate contracts with mining companies, according to the BBC.

Background: Coup in Guinea

Guinea army captain Moussa Camara announced the morning of Dec. 23 on state radio and television that he and the National Council for Democracy and Development group were dissolving Guinea’s government. Dictator Lansana Conte, who had ruled the West African nation since 1984, died the night before following a “long illness,” according to National Assembly president Aboubacar Sompare, the Associated Press reported.

“From this moment on, the council is taking charge of the destiny of the Guinean people,” Camara said. He also declared that elections would be arranged quickly, but he did not give a date.

However, Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare later contradicted Camara’s claims, saying the government “continues to function as it should,” according to The New York Times.

In a telephone interview with Agence France-Presse, Souare did say that, “There is indeed an attempted coup d’etat,” and added that he encouraged soldiers to resist the mutiny.

Souare had said the Supreme Court should hand the presidency over to him, because the constitution says the position should go to the head of the National Assembly in the loss of the president.

Conte, 74, had been ill in recent years, and it was long expected that a coup would follow his death.

Guinea is rich in resources but an extremely poor nation of 10 million people, thanks in large part to government corruption and an economy that relies heavily on food imports. Ahmed Sekou Toure took power after the country gained independence from France in 1958, and Conte grabbed control a week after Toure’s death in 1984.

Conte was considered one of the final “African Big Men,” who used military might to gain control and subsequently battled democratic tendencies, according to AP. He created a political party and was victorious in the 1993, 1998 and 2003 elections, but they were all marred by allegations of fraud.

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