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Coup leader breaks promise to hold elections soon

Coup leader breaks promise to hold elections soon

The leader of Guinea's recent coup appeared to back off an earlier promise to hold elections by the end of 2009, refusing to offer an exact timeline during a Monday meeting with political leaders.
Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, a junior army officer, led the December coup following the death of Lansana Conte, the country's long-ruling dictator.
"Regarding the exact date of the elections _ I can't provide you with an exact date. You want to know why? Because if I tell you a specific date and it doesn't come to pass, you all will be the first to say so," Camara said.
Camara initially won praise by promising to punish those that stole public funds and restore civilian rule by holding democratic elections. Camara initially refused to name a date, but then bowed to international pressure by saying he would hold the poll by the end of 2009.
Even as he appeared to waffle at the televised meeting in Conakry, Guinea's former colonial rulers applauded the junta's earlier promise of holding elections this year during an online briefing in Paris on Monday.
"The (junta's) announcement of its will to organize free, transparent and credible elections in the fourth quarter of 2009 is an encouraging sign," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told the online briefing.
He said France is "closely following" decisions related to the election calendar and budget.
Guinea _ frequently ranked one of Africa's most corrupt countries _ is prostrated by poverty following Conte's 24 years in power, a time in which he and his inner circle used the state's coffer as their personal piggy bank, even as their countrymen slid deeper into poverty.
In the days after the coup, Camara was initially embraced by Guineans, thousands of whom lined the streets to applaud his arrival on the back of a flatbed military truck. He won points by saying that he had no intention of staying in power and vowing to punish anyone that tried to offer him a bribe.
But many began to question his tactics when he authorized raids on the homes of well-known members of Conte's inner circle. Camara claimed the raids were intended to recoup money and property stolen from the state. But the raids, led by members of the junta who arrived waving machine guns, left residents with a sour taste and with the feeling that they were now living in a police state. The constantly changing election calendar has become another issue of contention.
Camara's remark was in reply to a statement by top union boss Rabiatou Serah Diallo who took the microphone to say that the country's political leaders believe the junta should stay in power no longer than 12 months. She stressed that elections should be held no later than December 2009. Camara replied that he has no intention of staying in power, but then refused to name a date _ whether in 2009 or beyond.
He also went on to say that those who had been in power under Conte should not run in the upcoming elections. The reference appeared to be directed at Cellou Diallo, Sidya Toure and Mamadou Sylla _ members of Conte's inner circle, all three of whom have recently launched political parties.
"The one to whom we will hand over power will be a clean president and a new man, because all those that served under Conte, who stole public funds and who now want to create their own political parties _ well, that's just not going to work," Camara said.
Evening talk shows were busy dissecting the twin comments, with many concluding that Camara appeared to be saying that Diallo, Toure and Sylla would not be allowed to run.
"It's worrisome," Cellou Diallo told The Associated Press in a telephone interview following Camara's speech. "I think we should let Guineans choose (their next leader) for themselves."
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AP correspondent Abou Bakr contributed to this report from Conakry, Guinea, Rukmini Callimachi from Dakar, Senegal and Angela Charlton from Paris.


Updated : 2021-10-18 00:28 GMT+08:00