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New Guinea Prime Minister Rejected By Opposition

Guinea's President Lansana Conte has named a prime minister following a day of renewed violence as part of protests calling for better governance. But opposition activists are expressing disappointment saying the choice is not good enough to end last month's general strike. For VOA, Jordan Davis reports from our regional bureau in Dakar.

Mr. Conte summoned protest organizers to the country's National Assembly Friday evening where he announced Eugene Camara would be Guinea's new prime minister.

Camara has served in a number of ministerial posts over the years. Since last month he has served as Minister of Presidential Affairs-a post in charge of day-to-day affairs.

Union leaders called off an 18-day general strike last month when Mr. Conte agreed hand over much of his power to a national-unity prime minister that opposition leaders said must be a civilian leader with integrity.

Shortly after the announcement, opposition groups have immediately expressed their disappointment with the president's choice.

Abdoulaye Bintu Diallo, an opposition figure living in exile in Senegal, says the choice does not meet their criteria.

Diallo says the nomination is an insult to the Guinean people and he does not believe Guineans and opposition groups will recognize him.

Union and opposition groups had threatened to restart protests next week if a new prime minister was not named.

Dustin Sharp, an analyst with Human Rights Watch currently in the capital Conakry says Mr. Conte's decision to name a top figure of the ruling party is not surprising.

"I think the thought was on the part of Mr. Conte and his supporters was to give away the absolute least amount of power for themselves as possible while at the same time not keeping so much power that it would trigger waves of social unrest," he said.

Earlier in the day Friday, thousands of demonstrators in several cities overwhelmed riot police, and attacked government offices.

Sharp says in recent days the atmosphere in the capital has been very tense, as well. "There have just been so many rumors flying around Conakry. The unions put out a declaration claiming that three truckloads of Liberian troops had come across the border and made their way into Conakry. There have a lot of people expecting the worst," he said.

At least fifty-nine people died during police crackdowns on demonstrations during last month's general strike. The movement paralyzed the country's economy as stores and government offices were shuttered.

Union leaders called the action to protest what they say is endemic corruption. They also called attention to the state of health of Mr. Conte. The president, who is in his seventies, suffers from complications from diabetes.